“I asked the children at breakfast one December to write a list of what they wanted for Christmas. I was busy, I had a lot on at work and I didn’t want to waste time in the shops. I was happy to buy them what they wanted, but I didn’t have time to spend thinking about what they might like.”
The man was quite emotional as he told me this. I was in a big department store in Dublin when this man had recognised me and come up to me and asked me could he tell me a story.
“When I asked them to write out a list my son of 11 and daughter of 13 just replied, “Dad, we don’t want any Christmas presents – we just want to have a great day with you. We want to go to church together , we want to have a laugh as we all help to cook dinner,” and his son added “I want to play football with you.”
The father admitted he got angry; he hadn’t time for this “Just write your list!” he told his children.
His children looked at him and his daughter said “Dad we have a gift for you but it doesn’t need to be wrapped!”
He said that this line stayed with him, but that he forget it in the run up to Christmas.
As the man was standing there talking with me the angels briefly took my attention to an elderly couple who were sheltering in the doorway of the store, they were holding hands and looking at each other with affection. The angels allowed me to hear what they were saying to each other and I immediately knew what “the present that didn’t need to be wrapped” was.
The man told me that on Christmas morning there were lots of presents under the tree. The son was delighted with the presents but he looked over at his father and said “Dad, we told you we didn’t want presents” and he threw his arms around his father and said “I love you,”
The man seemed to light up the department store as he told me, “It was the best present I ever got in my life”.
The man and I stood there and we both had tears running down our face. I’m getting upset even talking about this.
He told me that it was years since he had told his son, or his daughter that he loved them – actually said the words “I love you.” He told me he used to say it to them when they were very little but now that they were bigger it had seemed to him less appropriate – and he had gotten out of the habit of saying it.
He told me he realised now, that giving gifts wasn’t a substitute for telling his children he loved them. That spending time with them doing what they wanted to do was much more valuable than any gift he could buy in a shop.
Christmas is not about material things – it’s about showing love to people around you and enjoying spending precious time with each other. Remember this as you start to worry about not having a gift for someone, or not cooking the perfect turkey. And do take the opportunity that Christmas to give the present that doesn’t need to be wrapped and say those words “I love you” to the people you care for.
This was sent to me, in an email, by Lorna Byrne.