The best gifts you can’t really buy

Recalling memories of my best gifts is a distraction that makes me smile now that my husband is gone.  It’s sometimes hard to smile, but then I focus on good memories and it is hard not to be happy for all those years of gifts and holidays we spent together.

I won’t be going to the Americana Mall in Manhasset, NY this year with Mike. He was so happy that we were finally at the point in our lives where we could afford not to buy a home appliance for a Christmas gift. He loved to spoil me.

We would have a lovely lunch and pick out something nice together. The past few years we would live by his tradition of shopping on Christmas Eve and getting awesome gifts. For me.  That was nice.

On our trip across the country from New York to California we spent my birthday night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  We were 23 years old and he gave me a pretty silver heart necklace he bought in a local shop. I still love that one because we were young and in love.

The next year he gave me a sapphire necklace, my birthstone.  I wore it every day.

One weekend we drove from San Diego, California where we lived for 8 years, and met my parents in Las Vegas.  We all stayed at the Riviera Hotel on the Strip together.   It was a fun time seeing topless dancers and all that with my dad and husband.

After the show I was brushing my teeth and lost my necklace charm, the sapphire, down the drain in the hotel bathroom. It had sparkled on my neck for 3 months and now it was gone.  I was devastated.

We called housekeeping and 2 men from engineering came up to the room. They did their best to open the drain. It worked. My charm was recovered and worn happily for several more years.

After those sweet adornments, we got married and he gifted me with the role of wife and mother.

I was happy to be married and he was really my best friend.

For my 30th birthday, he was in the delivery room as my first son was born;  what an amazing gift.  Nothing compares to having children.  This kid was the best and we were so blessed.

A few years later came the little brother. Another perfect gift. Double blessings.


We loved them and Mike was the best dad.  It was all about giving them the best opportunities and providing them with important boundaries. They were good students and continue to impress me all the time with their accomplishments and support.

I wish their dad could see them now.

So while I enjoyed the stereo, the new toaster oven, the sentimental jewelry and designer purses, I loved the gifts of my children and their innocent Christmases and the family time that we shared.

I can’t have those days back but I smile that I do have those memories in my heart.


Christmas past, present and future. I cherish the past. Even though I am a widow I  will enjoy my family and friends who are here with me and I will participate in the present. The future is yet to be told.

People are coming here Sunday and I am excited, because I have people.  We will talk about Mike and recall some of his finer attributes like his good cooking, his sense of humor and the music he loved. Hopefully this year’s meal will be acceptable to all.

Anyway, there is shopping to do.  Presents to buy. Food to prepare. A big house to clean. I can do this.

Life is a gift. Merry Christmas.





At the age of 51 I unexpectedly became a widow. For the first 6 months after my husband died, I was in shock and numb. I journaled and with the help of friends, family and therapists was able to get back to living my old life, even if it is now very different. Before I was married, I had spent a semester in England and backpacked around Europe. My husband and I moved from New York to California for 8 years and started a family. Travelling took a back seat to raising a family and going to work everyday. Since the loss of my husband I have visited a lot of places with family and friends and took a solo trip to Thailand. I am enjoying sharing my stories and adventures as well as some of my insights to how I am traveling the path of being a widow. I hope to share my stories and adventures as well as some thoughts on being a middle aged widow. While I have some great experiences traveling to Thailand and cruising to Central America, some of my adventures involve a trip to see a Broadway show in nearby Manhattan and a shopping trip at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If I can inspire anyone to go out and continue to live a good life that would be my greatest accomplishment.

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14 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    You are so awesome! I love reading your blog. I can hear your voice telling the stories. 🙂

  2. Liz says:

    Only good thoughts this holiday…

  3. Janice Avellino says:

    This is so beautiful – you are very inspiring! XO Enjoy your Christmas blessings!

  4. Addie says:

    Christmas past, present ,future all may hold gifts beyond our wildest dreams , hold them all close to your heart and be thankful.

  5. runawaywidow says:

    Absolutely – I am thankful for what I have, and trust in my future. Thanks for reading my blog!!

  6. Bea dM says:

    I’ve taken a bit of distance from the whole Christmas thing – also because I became a Buddhist years ago – but I do go through the motions of the decorations, gift only to special people and cooking a traditional lunch on the day.Thank you for a lovely post that put me back in the spirit of things 🙂

  7. cedar51 says:

    I’m a bit late, had my ups/downs with family dynamics (I’ve no children and DH/I are split) but in way this has been enlightening as to why my elderly sister’s children (adults all in their 50s) are so erratic and manipulating…

    Usually I only see one of her kids but this Xmas got to 3 events – 2 of which my sister was at… and the problem isn’t her children as such but rather my big sister!!! I just unravels down through them in different ways…

    So it was a different kind of present, one that has no tangible object attached to it 🙂

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