Billie Silvey
At this highly commercialized time of the year, it’s interesting to
think back over gifts we’ve received that have had special

Some are gifts of lasting value. The first Christmas gift I recall
receiving was a copy of the
Big Golden Encyclopedia.  It was
given to me by a favorite cousin, but unfortunately, I was too
immature to appreciate it at the time.  She gave my sister a toy, and I
was jealous almost to the point of tears.  But long after the toy had
broken, the encyclopedia was a treasured possession.  I spent hours
poring over the colorful pictures and simple descriptions of
continents and animals and houses and transportation from all over
the world.  And the book held up well enough that my children were
able to look through it when they were young.

Some show an unexpected awareness. When I graduated from
high school, another cousin gave me a paperback thesaurus.  He
was in college, and I’d already shown some interest in writing.  I
was flattered that he’d taken my aspirations seriously and given
me one of the first tools of my trade.

Some involve thoughtful coordination. For our twenty-fifth
anniversary, our children got us tickets to
Les Miserables and
reserved a room in a hotel.  When friends asked what they could
get, the kids suggested dinner at a restaurant near the theater.  It was
an unforgettable night.

Some are meant to be shared. When I turned fifty, our daughter
hosted a party of friends from three decades and several contexts of
my life.  One brought flowers for the table, another a cake, and yet
another made a video of the event.  Because we were mixing people
who didn’t know each other, we played a “get acquaintedâ
€� game in which we listed an unusual detail about each guest.  
People who were special to me got to know each other as they
matched the person with an interest or experience.

Some are unexpected. I was touched when an elder gave me a
nice pen one Christmas when I was working for the church.  He
assumed I’d lose it, but I still use it almost daily.

Some are extravagant. The most extravagant gift I ever received
was when our daughter gave my husband and me gifts of foreign
travel.  First, she gave me a trip to England, and Frank came, too.  
Later, she sent him to Italy, and I tagged along.  These trips were my
only experiences in foreign countries, except for crossing the border
into Juarez and Tijuana.

Some are combinations. Our son saw to it that the whole family
was able to see all three movies of the
Lord of the Rings series in a
nice theater, making it a special shared experience the whole family

Some are gifts of talents. My husband designed, improves and
maintains one of the best gifts I’ve ever received--this website.  
He’s put untold hours into making it a source of pleasure for me,
and I hope for those who read it.

Gifts don’t have to be expensive, but most of those we
remember show the thought and effort that went into making them
just right for us.

Other articles in this December website include
Giving in America,
The Greatest Gift, and Giving Yourself, the story of Elizabeth Smith
and her work on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

To view our family's Christmas letter to you, click

I’d love to hear from you in response to the website.  I hope
you’ll suggest topics that you’re interested in and let me
know if the site is helpful to you.  This is my website, but I believe in
sharing.  You can reach me at
Giving in America
The Greatest Gift
Giving Yourself
December 2005
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History and the
Arts --and anything else that comes to mind.