I know, Christmas isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about the gifts. It’s hard not to fall in to that trap — there’s SO MUCH to shop for, so many gifts to buy. Most years, my “favorite gift” is one I buy for someone else — one I can’t wait for them to open, to see the look on their face, to see if they’ll smile or laugh or cry like I thought they would. Sometimes it’s something I’ve had in mind for ages, sometimes it’s a gift that kept me stumped throughout the shopping season, only to occur to me as an “Aha!” at the last minute.
Not this year, though. This year, my favorite gift isn’t one that I’m giving, and it isn’t one that I received. Today, in the mail, we got a package from home, addressed to the boys. We opened it up and it’s a recordable storybook, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”. 2 years ago, my mom recorded one for Benjamin, and last year, she recorded one for Liam. They’re fantastic — it’s so nice for them to have her “read them a story”, especially now that we’re so far from home. I love listening to her voice, and at the end, when she says “Merry Christmas” to Benjamin or Liam, Benjamin always says it back to her, and gives her a kiss. Benjamin also enjoys being able to “read by himself” (something I’m grateful for, too, on a long or tough day).
This one was a little different, though — over Thanksgiving, my mom, brothers and sister recorded the book for the boys. They each took a page or two and read the book aloud for the boys. Opening it up and hearing each of their voices made me feel like we were all together. As we “read” it, Benjamin gasped and smiled, Liam giggled and jumped up and down. We got it just this evening and have read it 6 or 7 times already.
We miss them all so much. Listening to their voices made me feel like we’re not so far away. I am so happy and grateful that they took the time to undertake this project for the boys (and for me). It’s like a big hug from across the ocean, and it’s probably going to be my favorite gift this year.