The gift not yet opened

Our Christmas tree, 2011

Our Christmas tree, 2011

“The most splendid Christmas gift, the most marveled and magic, is the gift that has not yet been opened. Opaque behind wrapping or winking foil, it is a box full of possibilities…Often what precedes is better than what follows, even when, like Christmas Day, what follows is good.”Gregg Easterbrook

As with other happy events, the anticipation that builds during the holiday season is often just as exciting (or more so) than the day itself.  As the old saying goes, “getting there is half the fun.”  If the stress of shopping, baking, wrapping and decorating has you undone, try slowing down long enough to actually savor the tasks themselves.  Perhaps it will help if we think of the future as a gift not yet opened.  Rather than focusing on what irritates or worries us, let’s enjoy the wonder of the present, and the hope for beautiful things that may lie ahead.


  1. Beautiful post Julia, the unopened gift is the most wonderful we can get. Your tree is wonderful to look at, it surely brings the holiday right into your home. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy New Year.

    • Thank you, Patricia! I’m so happy to have you visit us here, and I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday.

  2. Mike Bertoglio

    Not putting up a tree this year as out kids have abandoned us and moved East. Two boys both on the East coast and we are stuck here in rainland.
    Oh well-but this tree takes me back. My grandparents had the mother tree and these old time oil bubbling lamps that were like little lava lamps- in different colors. I am sure these are outlawed now and it is a wonder they did not set their place on fire.
    We do have one Amaryllis however -which actually is setting a bloom at this time. Have a blessed holiday.

    • Hi Mike, no Christmas trees for us this year either, a first in this family. The past two years we have had two large ones, and always at least one, but this year has been too tough on us. We do have a lovely poinsettia a friend gave us. I hope your Amaryllis will bloom gloriously! They are so beautiful. I have a photo of some that I will probably post here sometime this year. Hope you have a blessed holiday too!

    • Mike – this a sort of “test”, conducted by Eric, to see if a comment can be made, and moderated, almost a year later?
      But, I wanted to tell you that this year, we gave a “retro” gift of those very same lights to my daughter! Being afraid (wisely) to put them on a tree, they have a mirror lined with them, as a Christmas decoration.

      • Eric, comments can be made and moderated anytime, although very few people will read the ones posted on posts from way back, and some bloggers close comments on a post after a set time (default is 14 days). But I see no reason to do that, especially if I’m linking to a post from a year ago. If Mike doesn’t see this immediately, perhaps he will on the 22nd when I link back to it.

      • Julia – thank you for your consideration.

  3. i Hope

    • Kate, hope you and your loved ones have a blessed holiday season.

  4. Mike Bertoglio

    Thanks Julia. Also have a Mandevilla on the deck which after blooming all summer is still setting flowers! And it was 33 degrees last night. If I had a decent cell camera I could post.
    Please keep friend Terry in prayer as he lost his dad yesterday after long battle.

    • Will do on the prayers for Terry. Our neighbors have a Mandevilla and it’s gorgeous. I assumed they brought it in during the winter, but maybe not. I want to try one here sometime when I have the time to pay enough attention to keep it alive! 🙂

  5. Eleni

    Thank you, Julia for this wonderful post–much like many others. We all need reminders not only to help us slow down but also to remind us what really matters day in and day out. Many of us are so focused on far-reaching goals that we forget the little things that make happiness possible. May your days and your thoughts be as bright as the colors on the tree.

    • Thank you, Eleni! We all miss you! It’s wonderful to have you visit us here. Hope your family has a wonderful holiday season.

  6. What beautiful admonitions in your message today. I love what you say about looking at the future with anticipation as a gift to be opened. May we all apply that concept to our lives!

    • Thanks, Carla. It’s easier said than done, but it really is a better way to get through the tough times.

  7. Hi, Julia. A golden nugget of a post! Indeed the future is a precious gift. I’ll be embracing your thoughts as we head into the gift of a brand new year. Blessings, Bette

    • Thanks, Bette! I’m so happy to have you visit us here. I look forward to reading your blog too. Best wishes for a wonderful year in 2013!

  8. So much preparation and it’s all over in a flurry, I want to take time to savur every moment. I want to tell you too how amazing your tree is! How many ornaments do you think you hang!

    • (I accidentally posted this answer in the wrong place a couple of days ago.) Oh my, I would hate to even try to guess about the ornaments. Every year lately that I decorate it, I think “I can’t keep doing this!” I am starting to give some of my ornaments away because I have so many. My tree is like a scrapbook and each ornament has a story. I tend to create them out of things that don’t start out to be ornaments; for example, for my parents’ 60th Anniversary, I secretly took the little plastic decorations from the cake (lovebirds, bells, etc.) and made a Christmas tree ornament for myself, and one for them, that I gave them that Christmas as one of their 12 Days of Christmas gifts.

  9. ((( You ))) are so thoughtful, I can only imagine how happy they were to receive charms from their 60th (WOW) Anniversary cake fashioned into a treasure for their annual tree. I feel, as long as I have room to store them, I will continue to love them. At some point in my late late years (should I be that lucky) I’d like to have them all auctioned off to earn charity money to donate to animal welfare.

    • Thank you, I feel the same way about my ornaments. Most of them would be valuable only to me, so there are very few of mine that I could sell, but I’m starting to give them away bit by bit to people I think would appreciate them. I think you have a great idea, though. I wonder if there are any nonprofits that operate an eBay store where folks from all over could just sell things online with benefits going to the organization?

      • That’s a good question, I’ve never really looked into it but I’ve seen “seller for hire ads, where they take an estate and list items for the executers, handle the email, payments and shipping. I would imagine they take a percentage. The alternative would be to donate the whole caboodle to a shelter or hospital, that could also be a lovely option. It’d be nice if all the things we collect over the years could continue to bring happiness in some way.

        • I think it would be great to start a site like that, where people could sell things and then all proceeds go to the agency. The sellers could legitimately take a tax write-off for the amount of the sale, and the charity could pocket a lot of relatively expense-free income. Everyone wins! Surely someone has thought of this already?


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