The Best Gifts Don't Always Sparkle

Like most of you, I've been blessed with lots of memorable Christmas gifts.  There's the Strawberry Shortcake bicycle when I was 7.  The stereo with a dual cassette tape deck (hello, mix tapes?) when I was 14.  An antique angel pin from my college boyfriend. A locket from my mom to commemorate the birth of my first child, a December baby.  My husband is certainly no slouch in the Christmas gift department.  A weekend trip. My beloved diamond studs.  A couple of truly stellar purses and watches.  Lots of Apple products.

A few months after we got married, Bobby & I moved to Georgia so he could attend culinary school in Atlanta.  We rented a tiny carriage house in Decatur proper and shared it with our 95 pound weimaraner, Sam.  Only one of us had a real job.  Neither of us had ever lived so far from home, and we didn't know a soul.  I was a newbie lawyer during the day and a wannabe novelist at night. A book I had started in law school was still half-written. Bobby's hours were weird, even then, and I spent a lot of time one our couch with my computer & legal pads (I outlined then, as I do now, with pen & paper) propped up in my lap.

That Christmas, Bobby got me a leather & oak lap desk.  It doesn't sound exciting, does it?  Well, to me it represented encouragement and a belief that my dreams were achievable.  Writing is scary.  Secretly, you always wonder if you stink at it.  There is no grading system, no year-end performance review.  At the time, I actually believed I had it in me to do both; a year later my legal career would really take off at a national firm and leave very little time for anything but the kind of work that pays the bills.  I went years without finishing so much as a short story.  But at that time, in that place, my new husband believed I could do it, and that makes my favorite Christmas gift worth more than all the iPads in the world.

Still putting the lap desk to good use!