The Best Gifts

christmas gifts


A few weeks earlier, Dick decided that the five of us-Dick, Josh, his girlfriend, Ashley and I should go downtown for Josh’s 21st birthday celebration to one of the finest restaurants in Chicago which is also known to have a worldwide reputation as well. It is quite expensive, very romantic and boasts an amazing view of the city. I took Dick there for his birthday several years ago.

Quite frankly, when I heard where he decided Josh’s birthday dinner should be, I was surprised. It seemed a little over the top as well as inappropriate for a family birthday party considering this wasn’t the norm for how we usually celebrated.

The day before we were supposed to go out, Josh came to me very upset and angry. He said that we should cancel the dinner reservation because he wasn’t in the mood to celebrate with this family. He ranted and raved about how his life was ruined by his upbringing and thanks to us, we spoiled everything for him. As he continued on and on, feeling more and more sorry for himself, I heard enough and had to put this pity party to a halt.

I proceeded to remind Josh of all he had to celebrate and be grateful for, making sure he realized that not only did he survive in a home that was difficult, if not unbearable at times, he thrived. I pointed out that he was in the honors program at a Big Ten University, vice president of his frat and currently working at an internship which would probably lead to a job right out of college. These were all accomplishments he should have been very proud of and he’s worked very hard to be in the position he was in. I made it clear that he was not raised on “cruise control,” nor did he get to where he was on his own.

As the words flowed from my mouth, I continued on to say that no one’s life is perfect. Everyone has something that they have to deal with. He’s not the only one.

That’s life.

Some families struggle with illnesses, financial difficulties, job loss, death of close relatives, children with physical, emotional, and/or psychological issues, divorce and even combinations of these problems simultaneously.

On a roll, I told Josh that sometimes the best gifts come wrapped in the ugliest packages. While I would have loved nothing more for him and his sister to grow up in a home with two parents who loved each other, that was not the case.

It wasn’t the life I imagined for myself nor for my kids.

However, if anything good could come out of this situation, it would be that he learned how not to treat people he loves and cares about and to make sure that he is involved with people who respect him and support his dreams, goals and life. If at any time, he finds himself with someone who replicates what he grew up with, he should end that relationship as soon as possible.

I told him that if anyone should be happy, grateful and feel that he has something to celebrate, it should be him. He has his whole life ahead of him, a bright future and a sense of what is important in life. He’s been through enough already to know not to take people  for granted or take advantage of them. I told him he was lucky to learn that early on.

I think I got through to him.

When all was said and done, the birthday dinner was successful. It was a very pleasant evening. The food was outstanding, conversation flowed easily and a good time was had by all.

Most important of all, Josh appreciated all that’s right in his life.



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