The Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you’re like me, you were over the “doorbuster savings” and “great holiday deals” about five minutes after the Thanksgiving turkey was cleared off the table.

Face it, gift-giving is hard. Is it the right size/style/color? Will he like it? Does it go with the color of the walls in the living room? Maybe I should get a gift receipt, just in case.

Bah, humbug.

I’ve lived through a fair number of Christmases and birthdays, and gotten a lot of gifts – some good, some, well, not so good. But in looking back, it strikes me that some of the best gifts didn’t come in boxes. They were invisible treasures, things that stuck with me my entire life.

And one of the best gifts was a love of reading.

I’ve been reading since, oh, the womb? Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. I have bedraggled copies of Madeline, and Beatrix Potter that clearly show I’ve been reading longer than I’ve been doing almost anything else. When I disappeared at holiday meals, my parents knew where to find me: I was curled up with a book (and headphones, as I got older). Family vacation? I traveled in the back of the station wagon with the luggage – and a book.

I very clearly remember receiving my very first “adult” mystery for a Christmas gift – Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Twelve people, plus Poirot and the victim, stuck on a train, in the snow, and… wait a minute? Really? REALLY?

Mind. Blown.

From that point on, I was hooked on whodunit. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense. I still am. Oh, I read widely then, and I read widely now. But there is no doubt that one, seemingly minor gift – the love of the written word – has made me the person, the writer, I am today.

I’ve managed to give this gift to my daughter. My son embraced it a little later in life, but I think he might be growing into it. It’s really a gift without price, and of immense value. We might not all be able to travel the world, or go into space, and we certainly can’t experience first-hand the grandeur of Camelot or Victorian England. But we can all crack a book, and for a little while at least, all these things are ours.

So this Christmas, when you’re shopping for that perfect gift, check out your local bookstore. There be treasure there. The book you buy this Christmas just might make a huge difference in someone’s life.

And besides, who needs another ugly sweater?


Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She survived growing up through reading, cutting her mystery teeth on Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and, of course, Nancy Drew. As an adult, she finds escape from the world of software documentation through creating her own fictional murder and mayhem. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two teenage children, and fantasizes about owning a dog again - one of these days.

11 thoughts on “The Gift That Keeps on Giving”

  1. Amen. Nothing fills my heart with as much joy as seeing my children read, especially the one who struggled so hard to learn how to read. What a great gift! And I will forever be grateful to the teacher who helped her find that Aha moment in her learning to read and helped develop that love.


  2. What a sweet story about your son, Mary. I agree, Kristi. I’m grateful to the woman my mother hired to babysit me while she worked. Mamie was a retired school teacher, but because she was African American had never made much money in her life and still needed to work. She taught me to read early. I don’t remember specific books during my childhood so much as the recurrent phrase, “Get your nose out of that book and come help me!”

    On our last visit to Atlanta, I loved seeing my great granddaughter carrying her book around to family members, climbing into their laps for them to read to her.


  3. And…. HERE is where I would like to comment on Agatha Christie. IMO, she was a gift from the writer gods. (Ooo! Possible blog post idea. No stealies, anyone!) She is still my favorite author and I re-read her often, especially if I find myself in a very stressed point of life. In fact, it was her books that channeled my preference for mysteries, which has held all my life.
    And yes, to shopping bookstores for Christmas! We usually get a list from our school teachers asking us to forego regular gifts and instead give them everyday items for the classroom, like tissues or cleaning wipes. I ignore that and give them a bookstore gift certificate. I figure if they want to use it for the classroom, they can, but if they want to use it for themselves, also good. And Santa always brings a bookstore GC for the kids’ stockings.


  4. I have photos of my dad on the bleachers at my swim meets, head in a book until my events. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that count, I have to say. Besides, if people don’t give books as presents, what DO they give?


  5. I promise Donna – no stealies! True story: we had to weed our book collection (again) recently. Things just HAD TO GO. I originally put several fairly old Christie books on the “to go” pile, things I’d picked up at a library sale. Then I stared at them. Nope, just couldn’t do it. They went back on the shelf. 🙂

    Diane, my dad always carried a paperback to events too. Between baseball innings he read. My love of reading definitely came from him (not so much my mom).


  6. Lovely, just lovely! And, I agree, Donna. My daughter has always loved books, but she’s just now starting to explore a wider variety of genres, and it’s so exciting to see what she chooses. We’re all readers in our house, which is wonderful, too. There are never too many books!


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