The Greatest Gift – Holiday Reflections

It’s our last post in our Holiday Reflections series today, and SITStah Nichole does not disappoint. If you missed our first two posts in this series, we recommend heading back and checking out Remembering the Magic and The Memory Book. Today, Nichole writes about a very special Christmas list from her childhood that still holds great meaning today.

The Greatest Gift

When a piece of paper if folded and unfolded time and again, it takes on a smooth, almost fabric-like quality. The creases soften and the paper seems as though it has always been folded.

When a piece of paper is held in the hands of a mother whose greatest dream is of giving her children a Christmas unlike anything she ever experienced, the paper holds magic.

My earliest memories of Christmas are of my mother, sitting at the dining room table, with a pen and paper in hand, making her Christmas list, each stroke of the pen bringing her closer to Christmas morning.

At the first sight of me, she would carefully refold her Christmas list and securely tuck it into the zippered inner pocket of her purse.

There were times during my childhood when we truly struggled to get by.  But, somehow, despite our lack of money, my mother worked magic at Christmastime and we never went without gifts from our wish list.

But, while I have clear memories of many those perfectly wrapped and long-hoped-for presents, my mother’s careful list became one of the greatest Christmas gifts of my childhood, as it held more meaning than any toy ever could.

For us, her children, it contributed to our sense of anticipation and the magic of the holidays. That list was proof to us that Christmas morning was drawing near.

For her, the list held hope.

It held her dreams of Christmas morning.

It held the wishes of a woman who, as a child of a large family of little means, asked for a doll and got shoes.

Of a mother who saved every spare penny she had throughout the year so that she could experience her children’s joy on Christmas.

The list was less about checking things off and more about adding things.

That piece of paper, with my mother’s precise handwriting, is the gift that will stay with me for always. I asked her recently if she still keeps her list and she assured me that she does.

That knowledge is a gift in and of itself.

(Thank you for that, Mom. I love you as high as the sky…)

All of us here at SITS hope you have a holiday filled with magic, wonder and many blessings.

About the Author

In These Small MomentsNichole is a work-at-home mom to Katie, 4, and Matthew, 2. She blogs at in these small moments and writes about young children on Babble’s Kid Scoop. Though she loves being a mother to two small children, she truly looks forward to a well-deserved glass of cabernet at the end of the day.

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Remembering the Magic - Holiday Reflections


  1. Precious! Thanks for sharing.

  2. So sweet. Thanks for sharing. XO

  3. What a sweet memory…I feel like I can picture my mom exactly the same way at the table…in her bathrobe :)

  4. What a wonderful memory and treasure.

  5. Amazing that you have such a sweet Christmas memory. I was so worried about getting the right gifts for my kids this year….and then I remembered they ignored all their gifts last year except for a few dozen rubber duckies that I grabbed days before Christmas just to be silly.

  6. That was very touching and really brings home the meaning of Christmas. Thank you for sharing! ~ Angela

  7. This is great. It’s a nice reminder on how it’s the thought that really does count. :)

  8. What a great memory! I have memories of my mom saving the Sears toy catalog for my brother and me. We would excitedly look through the catalog…and circle the toys we desperately hoped Santa would bring us…

    Happy Holidays!

  9. What a lovely post. Heart warming and precious.

  10. Well written just like the list. This is a beautiful POST that I have read in a very long time. I WISH your MOM a very merry Christmas as well. This was an emotional piece of writing. A lovely and well written post go TRUE MOTHERHOOD. I admire the fact that you enjoyed your mom’s list and now you look at with a different prospect in life. BEAUTIFUL this brought tears to my eyes. Merry Christmas to you…

  11. Thank you for this, I am just so homesick right now I have a hard time just thinking about my mom.

    Peace to you and yours,


  12. Thank you, Nichole. A perfect example of how much the thought really does count. So much of what your mother gave to you came in her loving, considerate preparations. I hope to give the same to my girls. A very Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

  13. Beautiful. I have great memories of Christmases past, too!
    I especially love this line: “The list was less about checking things off and more about adding things.” Your mom must have written more things in her heart aside from that list you saw her making. I wonder what other hopes and dreams those were?

    Hope you’re having a blessed Christmas season so far. Thanks for this beautiful piece.

  14. This is so beautiful.
    My favourite memories of Christmas time revolved around the kitchen.
    My mom and my grandma would bake from early morning till night. Us kids would eat the batter of course and sing songs.

  15. What a lovely memory. I also frequently reference a list, and now I wonder if Abbey and Dylan will notice and have fond memories of it as well. You have such a gift for noticing the little things that mean so much.

  16. That was beautiful, Nichole. Your mother is a special, special lady.

  17. I saying I really like – being 54 now – it is the small tings in life that turn out to be the big things.. too bad we don’t learn that early on. I have lots of wonderful memories & have lost too many loved ones!

    Thank you for sharing.

  18. That was lovely. I had a mom like that.:-)

  19. Oh, Nichole. Your words are beautiful, I could almost see the list with my own eyes. What a wonderful Christmas memory to have. Simply lovely.

  20. What a beautiful memory. I try and remember that it is usually the little things that leave long lasting memories. The little moments really matter.

  21. What a beautiful post Nichole. That list was very special.

  22. Thank you for sharing such a sweet memory!

  23. It is about the little memories that all equal one big one. Thank you for sharing that story.

  24. Lovely and bittersweet as always, Nichole. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  25. I love this post. It sounds like your mother worked so hard to make sure that Christmas remained magical to everyone, herself included.

  26. Your words are like a gift, Nichole! What a beautiful memory…

  27. Oh, I couldn’t wait to read these words…and as always, so very beautiful. What a gift your mom was giving you without even realizing it.

    • Thank you, my lovely friend.
      Sometimes the words just come, don’t they?
      And that my mom still keeps her list makes me so happy.
      I wonder what Katie and Matthew will remember?

  28. Love this beautiful memory!

  29. Sigh. So beautiful NIchole and written as only you can. Perfect.

    • Thank you, Jessica!
      Funny the things that we remember, isn’t it?
      The trick is keeping that in mind as we obsess over making Christmas just perfect.

  30. What a magical memory:) Thanks for sharing with us!

  31. Thanks for sharing such a sweet memory–it points to the real importance of the special people in our lives!

  32. Ahhh I really enjoyed reading that.


  1. […] a memory of my mother that defined Christmas for me as a child and I am so incredibly honored to share my story with the SITS Girls over on The Secret to Success is […]

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