The Love Letter

By: Anne Maxwell

Parents who have a little one marking the milestone of a first Christmas later this month, lend me your ear. 

I do not often give advice, and on the chance that I do, it’s typically mediocre at best. 

But this -- this is something worth hearing. 

Pause the holiday hustle and bustle, grab a pen, and take note as I offer the answer to the question: “What do I get my baby for their very first Christmas?” 

And, my answer is this: 


This is not exactly a bombshell coming from a writer, and you may be tempted to brush it off. But please, take my suggestion to heart. That sweet baby you’ve been gifted with is not going to remember anything from his or her initial yuletide holiday. You, however, will never forget the precious moments from those December days. 

You’ll remember the infectious giggle that erupted whenever they spied Santa. Or, perhaps, the crying and squirming that ensued when they were placed on Santa’s lap. 

You’ll see the the way their eyes lit up with excitement at the mere sight of twinkling lights or the delighted squeal that erupted from their tiny lungs as they viewed a shimmering Christmas tree. And you’ll be reminded of the gentle weight of a baby in your arms as you rocked them to sleep, knowing that they are truly the only gift you’ll ever need. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, as you watch your child experience the sights and sounds of the seasons for the very first time, phrases of joy, wonder, awe, will pour forth from your heart. I know this because it happened for me when my babes were tiny. 

Only problem is, I didn’t write it down. Someone else I know did. 

My mother. 

I have what I consider an abridged baby book. I’m certain Mom had the same great intentions as all mothers of second, third and subsequent kids do. With my 2-year-old sister already in tow, she was preoccupied with making memories rather than documenting them. 

But there’s one page toward the back of the half-filled book that more than makes up for what I weighed and measured at 8 months, or a blow-by-blow account of my first haircut. It’s the story of the Christmas when I was just six months old -- in my Mom’s words. Even now, nearly a half century after my very first December 25, emotions wash over me reading about that day in my mom’s handwriting. 

She lists the first gifts I received. Shares who spent the holiday with us. What I saw. What I heard. I love all the little details she recounts from the day. But it’s the final lines that bring on the tears.

“Anne, we couldn’t have been happier this Christmas with all the presents in the world. God gave us a sweet little girl to love and that’s what it is all about. You have doubled our pleasures and you and your sister have made our lives complete. All our love, your proud parents.”

I am incredibly blessed to say I have spent every Christmas with my family since my mom first wrote those words. And I can’t even begin to count the number of presents I’ve received from my gracious and generous parents. But the words from my mom’s heart on that page have never -- and will never -- be matched. 

So, parents of little ones -- quit fretting about shopping. 

Start feeling. Begin writing. 

Don’t worry about how it sounds, just get it on paper. No gift will ever be more age-appropriate, one-size-fits all, and a treasure to unwrap again and again than what’s written from your heart.

I've heard it said, Jesus is the love letter God gave to us as his children. 

Write one for your own child as well. 

Merry Christmas. 

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