“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.”

“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” ~


This photo was taken in Michigan in 1952: my Uncle Bob, my Nana, me, my Mom. My Uncle Bob and my Nana had traveled from Boston to Michigan to be with me on my Christening Day. This is a post about the great gift of giving yourself.


It’s that time of year when we are both rushing around to accomplish everything that (we think!) needs to be done, but also pausing to remember things from our pasts.

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I do the latter… remembering things and people and moments like a swirl of whipped cream in a great big cup of hot chocolate.

Just recently, I was with several of my grandkids and they were all telling me what they had asked Santa to bring to them. The collective list included much of the stuff kids have always asked from Santa, just more technological.

Then they asked me what was my favorite gift from Santa. Wow. I really had to think. Then it came to me. I had lived a few years in California with my family and moved to New Hampshire when I was about to turn 9 years old. That Christmas, Santa brought me a sled, white figure skates and a pair of snow boots with fur lining. The memories came back like I was sitting next to our Christmas tree on that Christmas morning so long ago. I remember wanting to immediately put on those warm boots and some warm clothing and head out to go sledding and ice skating.

But I didn’t. Instead, I had to get all dressed up and head to Boston to visit my Nana and my Mom’s family. What?!

I wasn’t having it. This was my first snowy Christmas and I could hear the crunching of snow beneath boots and dragging sleds as my friends came to our door.

“But, Mom?” I begged.

The conversation with my Mom and Dad was all about giving in the sense of giving oneself – to my Nana, to enjoying the feast my Nana was preparing, to family.

I still wasn’t having it. I was 9 years old, fresh off the sunny, California coast – with sparkling diamonds of white snow beckoning from right across my street and friends outside my icy storm door.

It was a l-o-n-g drive to Boston that Christmas day. But when we got to my Nana’s house – Wow! I can still see the big, colorful bulbs in her front windows and hear the crunching of snow as I walked up her front staircase. I can still see my Nana greeting us at her front door… my tiny Nana with her white Nana hair in her Nana apron. I can still feel her hugs and I can still smell the turkey roasting in her oven. I can see my cousins and aunts and uncles rushing to the door for hugs and kisses, all dressed in their Christmas finest.

I can still see my Mom – home, in the home she grew up in, with her Mom, her family, her memories.

I don’t think I had ever been happier in my little lifetime; happier even than whipping down a snowy hill on a brand new sled or whisking around a frozen pond in perfectly new ice skates.

I learned on that Christmas of being 9 – The greatest gift is a portion of thyself  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, not me!

And there’d be plenty of lifetime for sledding and ice skating.



“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” was last modified: December 18th, 2013 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (4)
  1. I love it when a memory comes out of no where and is as vivid as the moment you experienced it. I had that happen tonight at the kids’ holiday concert. All of a sudden, I remembered my elementary school days, singing my little heart out with my chorus at the bank that was across from our school. Giving of ourselves, making others happy – these are the lessons you have instilled in your children and grandchildren, that I hope to instill in mine. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a special memory, and a gorgeous photo! I have a picture like this of myself, my brother, and my great aunt at Christmas when I was about 6 years old. It truly brings me back 🙂 So glad you have this amazing memory!

“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” was last modified: December 18th, 2013 by Sharon Couto