The Best Gifts Don’t Always Come Wrapped Up Under the Tree

As we are ticking off the days until Christmas, our conversations are often tailored around how much holiday shopping we have gotten done.

The older that my kids get, the harder it becomes to meet the items on their list within my budget, and honestly these gifts will be outgrown or underused far too early.

But the holiday shopping conversations and thoughts about how expensive this time of year can be had me thinking about the best Christmas gifts that I have ever received, and SURPRISE- they didn’t come wrapped under the tree!!

The first of my best-gift-evers: was when my youngest daughter met my husband for the first time at the age of three months old, when he got home from a deployment. The second best-gift-evers, was my husband being discharged three months early from the hospital, so we could spend the holiday together – as a family.

Our best presents aren’t usually gifts that come wrapped, or even gifts that fit tidily under the Christmas tree. They are the ones that evoke emotions. Often these gifts can’t be packaged or bought, but are the most memorable. There are few gifts that I can remember from my childhood opening, but there are moments that were present-ed (pun intended) that will be remembered for a lifetime. Some of the below are some of the best, most memorable gifts others have ever received; while they weren’t all holiday gifts, all of these gifts have forever changed their holiday season:

Megan S. and her husband were on the other end of a frantic social worker looking for an adoptive family for a newborn. They had nothing, because they weren’t expecting to adopt for a while yet…but the social worker and birth mother thought the couple were the perfect fit to raise the little boy… That was five years ago, their family has been complete since he was placed in their arms.

Samantha U’s Wounded Warrior husband underwent a leg amputation surgery which was best gift that her family has ever received. You’re probably thinking that is a weird “gift.” The amputation meant her husband no longer suffered from leg pain and could start to freely live his life again.

Lisa C. and Rachel B. were all greeted with words from their respective doctors that they were (and still are) cancer free. There isn’t much of a better gift than being able to continue to live.

Chris O.’s son John Doody (who is a Wounded Warrior) said his first word for the first time after being in a vegetative state for five months. That word was, “No.” After Chris asked him if he wanted to watch “South Park.” I can imagine how hearing those words felt. (If you want to feel inspired, read more about Lcpl. John “JT” Doody at

Erin E.’s best gift ever was the day that a liver was found for her infant daughter, Willow. The liver has allowed Willow to continue to live, and the caring donations of their family, friends, and even strangers has allowed the family financial support to support Willow through their new normal. (You can find more about Willow here:  

Nathalie O. shared that after her son was born, her husband took his first step, having two new walkers in the house was her best present ever. Doctor’s said he would never walk again after an IED blast; he proved them wrong.

Joy H. and Marly J. agreed that the birth of their child(ren) were their best gifts.

Joe F. provided the best gift ever to his children, when he surprised them by coming home for Christmas while he was stationed in Germany and they were living stateside. Boy, talk about a surprise.

When asked, not a single person answered that their favorite gift was something that someone bought them; each one, was something that meant much more than anything that has a price tag.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

“Maybe Christmas, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.” – The Grinch

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