While sifting through an assortment of mementos from last year’s holiday season, I came across my then-four-year-old daughter’s Christmas list. I had found it so endearing that I included it in my column.

Some of you may remember such highlights as: a brand-new real-live kitten, someone to come out of the TV, a huge motorcycle machine that drives her off in pretty clothes, to climb a mountain and slide down a rainbow and run super-fast in the really-far woods, sticky gloves to climb the walls and ceiling, her own money that is pink, and a brand new costume that is everything.

Rae, who is now a spirited five-year-old, wrote a Christmas list this year that includes no more and no less than one bunny rabbit, a hamster named Mr. Cuddles, a pet cat, one chipmunk, and a wiener dog. After reviewing this list with her, I asked Rae if there was anything else that she would like from Santa. Her reply, of course, was “Fairies!”

In response to this list, I told her, “These are all living things, Rae. Isn’t there something else that you might like? I only see living things on your list. Why don’t I see anything inanimate? Why do you only want pets?”

Without skipping a beat, Rae said quite matter of factly, “Because I will love them. And they will love me.”

Her brother Ian, who included a goat on his Christmas list this year, chimed in and asked, “Yeah, what matters more than that, Mom?”

…And, not surprisingly, I had no reply. Because they are right. As much as I do not want a bunny rabbit, a hamster, a pet cat, one chipmunk, a wiener dog, and a goat occupying my already very busy and very tiny home, I had no answer to this very simple question.

Nor could I argue with the point that they had made.

Because, really, there is precious little on this Earth that matters more than love.

Especially the selfless love that children seem so eager, and so naturally able, to give and receive.

And that is truly the essence of the holiday season, is it not? To celebrate those that we love most, not that which we love most. To cherish our loved ones. To love them, nurture them, and allow them the opportunity to do the same for their loved ones.

So, this holiday season, rather than focusing on what you have in your life, I hope you are instead able to focus on who you have in your life. Shift your focus from the things that we fill our lives with to those that fulfill our lives. Those that we have to love and to cherish. And those that we receive love from.

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