Every Christmas, I take inventory of the holiday gifts that my wife gives me.
Some people wish for cashmere sweaters, the latest gadget, stylish watches, and jewelry. My hope is often for the least pretentious, most unexpected, quirkiest little gift possible, and she never fails to deliver.
For the past nine years, I’ve been documenting the gifts that Elysha gives me on Christmas because they are so damn good. Every year has been just as good as the last, if not better.
The 2009 Christmas haul featured a signed edition of a Kurt Vonnegut novel.
The 2010 Christmas haul featured a key that I still use today.
The 2011 Christmas haul featured my often-used Mr. T in a Pocket.
The 2012 Christmas haul featured my fabulous No button.
The 2013 Christmas haul featured my remote controlled helicopter.
The 2014 Christmas haul featured my "I Told You So" pad.
The 2015 Christmas haul featured schadenfreude mints: "As delicious as other people's misery."
The 2016 haul featured a commissioned painting of the map of my childhood Boy Scout camp.
I wept when I opened that painting last year. A high bar.
Once again, my wife did not disappoint.
It's an incredible collection of gifts. It feature a specially designed set of playing cards for poker, a Tom Brady Lego set, a device that replaces the cumbersome cords that connect my phone to my laptop, and that fabulous blue ribbon that reads, "I survived another meeting that should have been an email."
Best of all is the Atari 2600 simulator, which will allow me to play some of my favorite games of my youth. When I opened that gift, I told Elysha that it was hands-down the best gift of the year. It is my vehicle into boyhood. A chance to dive back into one of my favorite things from childhood.
Then I opened this:
A commissioned painting of my grandparent's farmhouse.
I grew up next door to my grandparents, and in many ways, their land was my own. It was truly my adventure land. A place where I ran in the sun and sledded down hills. Forests to explore and mysteries to uncover.
Hulks of ancient cars that my father and his brothers raced in the backfields.
The foundations of burned out farmhouses from decades ago.
Apples and peaches and pears and chestnuts for the taking.
Streams and ponds and fields that I would spend hours hiking.
With the passing of my great uncle this year, it looks like the farm will be broken into pieces and sold off as housing lots.
It breaks my heart.
Unbeknownst to me, Elysha took photos of the land and the house this summer and commissioned a painter in the Ukraine to produce this work of beauty.
I wept when I opened it. For the second year in a row, my wife caused me to cry on Christmas morning.
There's no better gift giver in the world, people. Every year, Elysha looks into my heart, finds a hole in need of filling, and fills it with thoughtfulness, generosity, creativity, and love.
So much love.