The title should give it away. It's my birthday today. I'm halfway to ninety now. That's a lot of birthdays. And a lot of gifts over the years. I don't remember most of them, shirts and books and movies and chocolate. The best gifts didn't come on my birthday and weren't just a one time thing. Here's a list, in no particular order.
1. The gift of music. My parents paid for four years of piano lessons. I didn't practice like I should have, but I did enough to learn how to play. I still enjoy it even though the antique piano in my front room needs some restoration work and re-tuned. My favorite pieces to play are the old classics - Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky. I've attempted some of the harder pieces but haven't practiced consistently enough to master them.
2. The gift of reading. I taught myself to read when I was four. I can't remember not being able to read. I love books. I thank my mom and dad for keeping a huge library in our basement and letting me have the time to explore all those wonderful treasures.
3. The gift of writing. Thanks to all those patient teachers who put up with me for all those years of school, I know how to put sentences together. Thanks to the great SF writers who taught me to dream and follow my imagination, I write my own stories.
4. The gift of knowing who I am and loving what I am and reaching to become someone better. The best gift I have ever received is my testimony of a loving Heavenly Father who wants me to be the best I can be. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to provide a way for that to happen. He gave us scriptures and prophets to guide us back to Him. He loves us and wants us to find joy.
5. The gift of family. I have wonderful parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and children. I have marvelous in-laws. If you've seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, my wedding looked like her side of the chapel, except both sides were just as full. Large families are great, especially those that treasure their family ties. I may have grumbled over all the family reunions over the years, but I'm grateful my mom made us go. As I look forward to my first grandchild, I'm glad I have that whole fabric of interconnected family links.
The best gifts in life aren't ones you can fit in a box. Thanks, mom and dad, for all you've given me.