Being Beautiful: Friends beat out toys and tractors as Christmas gifts

My Christmas list to Santa reads quite differently than the one I penned under the supervision of my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Jeffcoats, all those years ago.

In fact, one could say it’s my grown-up Christmas list with no mention of a mink coat for Mama or a new tractor for Daddy. This year’s list for Ole St. Nicholas is more about the gifts that fill the heart and cannot be wrapped with a big red bow or found underneath the Christmas tree.

I wish for the world to slow down and revolve patiently around the gift of friendships. It has been well over 40 years and I have curated an impressive collection of friends. I consider them treasures. My first friend was that little girl my mama placed gently in my arms when she was only a baby. Even though I was barely 4 years old, a little magic happened that day. Tracey Annette became my best friend from the moment our eyes met, and we have grown up finishing each other’s sentences, riding the big yellow school bus across the bumpy hills and hollows of Dykes Chapel Road, riding bicycles in the summertime, and snuggling under tents made of bedspreads during rainstorms. All the seasons of our lives have been shared. God gives us the people we need in our lives, not only the ones we want.

When I look back, I am grateful for those friends who came into my world not just for a season, but for a reason. I am better because of friends like Kelvin, India, and Cassandra for helping a little boy discover that love transcends all colors of the rainbow. Then there are the gifts I will never forget who helped me through the almost unbearable bullying of my high school years: Richelle, Naomi, Renee, Kimberly, and Curtis. Sometimes the truest friends are those who know you need a hug whenever you don’t even know it yourself or whose smiles light up the dark corner of a classroom.

Grown-up friends shine brighter than a strand of holiday lights—Jan, Lynn, Ethel, and the list goes on. Thank you, Santa, for sending me the best team just when I needed them most.

The presents we open with our hearts are the ones I am most thankful for this year. There is Lyn (different from Lynn) who won me, literally, in a charity raffle, and has become one of my best friends. I will never forget Lillian and Marcella, who were the two magical reasons our path led us to Colorado last year and continue to share their kindness, laughter, and joy. They invited us into their family, and we had the good sense to accept the best gift I ever got in a pair.

Santa, forget the toys I asked for in the third grade. You have truly outdone yourself over the years with the gift of friendships which make my holidays merry and even make my sad days brighter.

Contact David at [email protected].