The Perfect Gift


A long, long time ago in a house not so far away, newlyweds were enjoying a cup of hot cocoa while sitting around their first Christmas tree. Then it happened.

Smiling, as the puzzled look crossed the husband’s face, the young bride handed him a gift. Even though it was supposed to be the start of their holiday tradition not to exchange presents, this one time, she thought otherwise.

After untying the red and gold striped ribbon encircling the small white box and removing the lid, the husband revealed the contents of the box — a gift that would change his life forever in ways he never could imagine.

It was the perfect gift.

The gift wasn’t one he’d place on a shelf in their home so it could be admired. And it wasn’t one he’d keep under lock and key. Instead, he carried the gift wherever he went, but without fear of losing it. For it was something that could never be lost or stolen.

A priceless gift.

Through the years he visited many stores and little boutiques, trying to find something of comparable value to the contents found in that little box, but to no avail. The gift she had given to him was priceless at the time and would do nothing but appreciate in value for the rest of their marriage. Of all the gifts he had been given by family or friends over his entire lifetime, it was the most cherished item he had ever received.

The useful gift.

Over the years, gifts can become broken and then discarded, placed in a box or a drawer and then forgotten, or rarely used, but none of those things happened with the gift she had given him.

Placing the gift in his pocket each morning before leaving for work, he was never without it and knew he would never — or could ever — lose it. And unlike other gifts that have fallen by the wayside or outlived their usefulness, he would use it more each day.


Over the years, the young couple faced many of the challenges that life can bring, but through them all, their love for each other only grew stronger. And with each adversity, the gift she had given him that first Christmas became even more important to him.

Inside the box was indeed the perfect gift. Written on a brown note card was a simple yet timeless promise: I love you forever and a day. Together we can do anything.

A long, long time ago…

A long, long time ago we made a pledge not to exchange gifts for birthdays or Christmas. To us, our love together was the best gift of all. And yet, I still search the stores and boutiques looking for that one special gift, knowing anything I could find would pale in comparison to what you have already given me. That day you said “Yes” at the base of that waterfall, you gave me the perfect gift of them all.

I’ve spent the last 26 birthdays with this beautiful person I’m fortunate enough to call The Wife, and just when I think our life together couldn’t possibly get any better, it does.

Thank you for everything, my love, and I’m looking forward to where the next 26 birthdays will take us. And with your retirement coming soon, your next birthday will give us something truly special.

Time together — the perfect gift we can give each other.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]