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The Best Gift

Story ID:4631
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Writers Conference:My Favorite Holiday Story
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
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Money was scarce that year. Ginny and I decided not to exchange gifts. We would
just enjoy our tree and our love.

“I have one gift for you.” Ginny said.

I frowned. “I thought we agreed not to exchange this year.”

“It’s not much. I found it a few months ago and saved it for Christmas.”

“I don’t have anything for you.” Christmas was two days away. “Is there any
money in the account? Can I go out and find you a little something?”

“Michael, there’s no money left.” She paused. “It’s OK. At least our
grandchildren are close by.”

“That’s true. They’ll make our Christmas special. I can’t wait to see them open
their gifts.”

Secretly, I fretted. Ginny needed a gift. I wanted her to know I loved her. A few
days before Christmas, I got an idea. On Christmas Eve, when we returned from her
daughter’s, I placed two envelopes under the tree. The first one contained a lottery ticket,
which was a loser, and a note.

The note said, “I have created a game for you. It’s called, ‘The Twelve Ways I
Love You’. I have hidden twelve notes. Each one gives a clue to where the next one is
hidden. Your first clue is in the next envelope.”

“This sounds like fun.” Ginny smiled, picked up the second envelope, and opened

1. I love you for your warm and loving smile.
Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - Behind a pool of water

“Everything is hidden on this floor.” I said.

“A pool of water?” Ginny looked at me. “Where is a pool of water?”

It was my turn to smile. “You figure it out.”

Ginny looked around the room. She stood, walked into the bathroom, checked
behind the toilet, and came up empty handed. She wandered into the kitchen – nothing.
I sat on the sofa and listened to her footsteps. She moved out of view into the living
room. A few minutes later she stood at my side. “Michael, there’s no pool of water here.”

“Yes there is.” I grinned like a child on Christmas Eve, which I was. “Look
around you, Hun.”

She spied a picture on the wall. It was a print of a painting. It depicted a pool of
water with a footbridge crossing it. Ginny walked up to it. “Is this it?”

“I know nothing.”

“It can’t be behind it! Could it?” I shrugged.

She reached out and pulled the bottom of the picture from the wall. A note fell

2. I love you for your hugs.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - under our “City”.

She got it right away. It was hidden under a snow globe. Inside the globe were all
the major buildings from New York City.

3. I love you for the way you welcome me home.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - It’s the millennium.

Ginny got this one quickly too. She knows my Christmas tree. My little girl
turned to the tree, spotted my 2000 ornament, and found the next note behind it.

4. I love you for holding me at night.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - I come once a year.

This was a given. Ginny looked under every Santa figure, until she found it.

5. I love you for your laughter.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - Once only seen in a movie.

This stumped her. Ginny stood in the middle of the room and looked around.
“Once only seen in a movie? What could that mean?”

I sat on the sofa and smiled like the cat who caught a mouse.

Ginny disappeared into the living room again. A few moments later I heard
her yell in triumph. “Ah Ha!”

If you have seen the movie, “A Christmas Story”, you know the father received
a major award. It was a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg. We have a miniature version
of that lamp. The note was hidden under it.

6. I love you for your friendly nature.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - A video equipment sandwich.

She found it under the DVD player, which sits on top of a VCR.

7. I love you for your love of life.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is -
An English garden.

Ginny was on to me. She looked at a picture of a garden that hangs on our living
room wall and found the next note and clue. “Michael, this is so much fun. You’ve
created a new tradition. You have to do this every year from now on.”

She read the note.

8. I love you for your generous heart.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - Joseph looks down over me.

Ginny spied a snow globe with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Joseph stared
down on our savior in his manger. She picked it up and found the note.

9. I love you for sending me off to work in the morning with the words, “I LOVE YOU!”

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - You stare at me for hours each day.

She looked under the computer and then found it under the monitor.

10. I love you for the way you look at me with love in your eyes.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - You hold me in your hands and live
other lives every day – I hide at the back.

“Michael, you definitely have to do this again. This is wonderful.” She paused,
looked around, and picked up her book, and looked in the back pages. It was there, but
she didn’t see it. Ginny went to the book shelf to inspect other books.

I started to laugh.

Ginny turned from the books. “What?”

I didn’t want to give her clues, but I was afraid she’d tear every book from the
shelf. “Hun, you had it in your hand.”

“I did?”


She picked up her book again. Hidden behind the jacket cover in the back was:

11. I love you for giving me a new family.

Your next “I LOVE YOU” hint is - You use me to stay dry.

Ginny returned to the bathroom and inspected the towels. She found nothing.

I heard her in the kitchen, as she inspected the paper and dish towels. Our cat,
wondering what was going on, followed Ginny into the living room. A few moments
later, I heard a rattle, and then, “I GOT IT!”

The note was hidden in the umbrella stand.

12. Last – I love you for coming into my life and accepting me into yours – the greatest gift of all.


Ginny collected all the notes, put them in order, and curled up beside me.
I pulled her close. Our lips touched. She looked into my eyes. “Michael, that was the best
gift ever. Thank you!”

I kissed her again. “Merry Christmas, Ginny.”

Michael T. Smith