The Gift 2010


Some people really hate those photocopied updates inserted into the Christmas cards that show up in your mailbox each year. You don’t hear from people for a whole year, what makes them think that you want to know what they did instead of writing you an e-mail once in a while, right?

I happen to like reading what’s been going on with other people. I especially like reading my aunt’s letters. Always creative, unique, and with a wonderful message. This year was no exception.

I had another story about our WhiteCoat family ready to post, but my aunt’s letter pre-empted it. Maybe another time.

Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the time with your family.

My granddaughter, Janelle, came up to me a couple days ago and said: “Now that I’m 7 years old and in the second grade, I need to start pulling my own weight. After all, I do get my First Holy Communion this year. So … could you give me $1000 so I could buy the greatest gifts for all the people I love?”

After I got up off the floor, I realized what a fantastic teaching moment I had and I started to explain how the best gifts weren’t always the ones that cost the most. I reminded her about the great time we had at our son’s wedding and all the friends and family who gave so much time to share in their happiness. There were even a couple of guys who went above and beyond when Papap enjoyed the rehearsal dinner a little more than most. You could draw a picture for John and his wife, reminding them what a wonderful day that was.

I told her that Mike’s girlfriend, Desiree, was coming to visit during the Christmas holiday. She is the French girl he met in South America. Mike’s gift would be easy to figure out. The best gift you could give Mike is to learn French and teach him things to say to Desiree. I thought something like: “Tu ai vole mon coeur“. Just don’t tell him what it means.

And Chris needs help studying. The economy still has not picked up enough for him to find a full time job, so he has decided to get ready for an MBA. The first step will be taking the test to get into graduate school. That and help him find a part time job to tide him over.

For Papap Gus and me, the gift is so easy. Make us something. Anything that comes from your heart makes us happy. Well, that and Notre Dame winning makes us happy. So following this advice, I decided to make a cross stitch picture for everyone who matters in my life. I calculated that if I do that I have to live to at least the age of 86 to get them all done. If for some reason, you don’t get yours, it must be God didn’t know you were on the list.

“You see, Janelle, it’s not the cost of the gift that makes it special, it’s the love that goes into it. The gift of love, once given, can never be taken away. Not time, not distance, not even death can take love away. It is a small piece of you that someone else will hold forever. It is the gift God gave us that first Christmas when the Baby Jesus was born.”

“I still have the tea cup Chris gave me when he was about your age. It sits in the back of the cupboard and is never used, because it is the ugliest cup I have ever seen. But every time I see it, I smile because it came from Chris. And up on my dresser are two angels that my grandmother made me 40 years ago. It brings her back to me, even though she is in heaven. I have all sorts of little knickknacks that friends and relatives have given me over the years. I could tell you who gave me each one.”

Janelle looked at me with a puzzled expression. Then, all of a sudden, she smiled her famous smile and said: “I get it, Grandma.” I was so happy. I was able to help her understand this simple truth. Then, she said: “It’s okay, Grandma. I understand. I’ll go ask Papap for the money.”

So, I hope this small gift of love from the Off-WhiteCoats finds its place in your hearts. May your whole Christmas season be filled with family, friends, and love. And may your 2011 bring you every gift your heart desires.


  1. It is these kinds of postings, along with your utter honesty, that make us feel as if we are all part of your extended family, WhiteCoat. Do you realize what your writings mean to us? May the Infant Child bless you and keep you and yours happy and healthy for many more years to come, in order to help others.

  2. Thank you, Dr. Whitecoat. A great message.

    PS i love those family letters…hilarious without meaning to be…my husband has written a couple of very sarcastic, funny ones that everyone loved.

  3. I enjoy the Christmas pics and letters and not at all offended if only time of year some people connect. I could call too. 🙂 At least they make the effort to remain connected and share some of their lives.

    Great life lesson opportunity ..funny outcome! Thanks for sharing that.

    Oh ..there was an Everybody Loves Raymond episode in which they all made fun of the Christmas letters they received. Funny episode. I guess it depends on the letter writer and sincerity, etc.

    Also …snail mail correspondence is special in my book. I LOVE to save the special cards and letters and then come across them years later. The thing about something written is that you can read it over again.

    • PS My cousin and i write letters to each other…it’s great! i think we may be the last of the snail mailers! Anyone out there interested? 🙂

  4. Happy New Year to you too Tracy. 🙂

    It’s amazing that with all the writing I do ..I don’t do a Christmas letter …although have been thinking about it.

    One of the nurses I used to work with does a fantastic one. news about work and all kinds of family events and pictures. I always look forward to it. She should do a blog …especially since she is an ED nurse. 🙂

  5. And as our own little Tiny Tim said to the nurse upon leaving the ER ( for his 14th visit that year)
    “Where’s my sucker, bitch ?!”

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