The Best Present. Ever.

JOY I don't expect gifts at Christmas anymore. My boys don't even attempt to get me anything. In their defense, I'm super hard to buy for. I purchase what I need (or want) when I see it, because I've learned that if I don't, it will be gone. I don't even make a list. Usually I am in the Christmas spirit immediately after Thanksgiving, I love to buy presents and to entertain around the holidays. This year, everything seemed a bit lackluster. It might have been the lack of snow, or the fact that I was too busy with work, or that I had no energy to arrange any get togethers.

Or it could just be the sad fact that two of my "kids" no longer live with us and it messed with my joy.

There was something missing this Christmas for me. My spirit. I missed my "almost daughter" Sadie and our long talks by the tree. I missed the antics and goofy laughter of her little brother Jeffrey. (I secretly kept hoping he'd surprise us and show up to hang his special ornament on the tree.)

It's not like I don't see Sadie or communicate with her fairly often, she even unexpectedly took the day off work and came along to the Spaulding Family Christmas in Jackson last Saturday. But I find I just miss the day to day stuff with her. It's the little things that make the holiday special for me, and those little things were missing.

On Christmas Eve our tradition is for my entire family to come over for dinner and games. And this year Sadie drove over to be with us. We played a game called two truths and a lie and laughed our heads off at each other, then Sadie opened her presents. Normally the kids open their presents on Christmas morning, so it was for me a little bittersweet knowing she wouldn't be there in the morning. I loved that we at least got to see her.

It was a bit of a surprise when she showed up on Christmas Day at my mom and dad's house around dinnertime though and asked to read us all something. She unfolded a lined sheet of notepaper and read aloud what she'd begun writing when she got home the night before.

Dear Family:

Love, peace & laughter are three words that come to mind when I think of you all. You have taught me so much about unconditional love, peaceful holidays and the sound of real laugher. I've never had the courage to stand in front of you and tell you how grateful I am, and how much I love each of you.

Although the last few years have not been the easiest, you stood by me, asked questions and took the time to get to know me, everything families are supposed to do. You let Jeffrey and I into your hearts & family, so suddenly, that we were never sure how to act around you. I still feel we don't quite understand you sometimes. We were so confused about why such a loving family would want us to be a part of their family.

You know the crazy, the funny, the sad and the silly stories about how we came to be, what we have done and what's happened around us. But still, you make us laugh, cry (tears of joy), and love us as though you've known us our whole lives.

Even though, Jeffrey is not here to assure you of his feelings, I know he just doesn't understand yet. I am truly blessed to be here celebrating another family Christmas with you all.

Merry Christmas and thank you for giving me the chance to call you family.

--Sadie

Proud heart doesn't begin to describe how happy this simple, unexpected and heartfelt "gift" made me feel this Christmas. Sometimes it truly is the little (big) things that bring the greatest joy.  Best Christmas present. Ever.

Here's hoping you found something to bring you joy this holiday.