The Best Gift You Didn't Ask For: A Christmas Letter to My Children

When the scraps of wrapping paper are left on the floor and we are unboxing new toys and clothes, there’s a gift that you didn’t ask for... but it is my favorite gift to you.

To my toddler- it is your baby sister. The one that is so fresh and new but oh so sweet.

To my baby- it is your big brother. The one who is loud and oh-so-two years old, but looks at you with heart-melting adoration every chance he gets.

Photo Credit:  Alisha Skeel Photography

Right now you might not understand it, but having one another is the gift I am most proud of giving you. It is filling two arms and waking for two cries and snuggles. It is going through all of the stages and regressions more than once. It is the ongoing balancing act of whose needs to attend to first and how to make you both feel valued and cherished. It is a gift that came with an innumerable price, but it is also a gift I have given you with much thought and now I sit in anticipation of spending my life watching it play out.

Photo Credit:  Alisha Skeel Photography

To my sweet baby girl Sage:
I have given you a big brother. A protector. A role model. An advocate. Someone to ensure that there’s always something to laugh at and always a shoulder to cry on. Someone to drive you to school and totally grill your first boyfriend. Someone who will meet you with a perfect mix of strength and humor and tenderness. A built in best friend. Sure, he can be loud and rambunctious and make it hard to sleep. Sure, his emotions are big and he leaves a lot of messes, but you have each other. My gift is that you will always have someone to see as an example, but also with room to think for yourself. You will learn quickly how to resolve conflict (because there will be some conflicts!) You will learn to cheer someone on and to stand up for yourself if (and when) you are wrongfully blamed. You will learn from him that your parents are messy and imperfect but they love you beyond words. You will learn a love for cars and trains and wrestling matches and you will have someone to make funny voices for all of your favorite toys. I’ve given you an incredible big brother.

Photo Credit:  Alisha Skeel Photography

To my sweet big boy Emerson:
I have given you a little sister. Someone to keep you grounded. Someone to teach you balance and bring out the best in you. Someone to help you know what is worth fighting for and what is worth passing over. A sister with a gentle strength that will be just what you need through seasons of your life. A built in best friend. Sure, she has disrupted all the rhythms we used to know. Sure, she sleeps and cries and poops a lot, but you’re going to love something about every stage and you have each other. My gift to you is the chance to learn how to share and take turns. A chance to become a helper and a partner with mom and dad. I’ve give you a chance to see yourself as a leader and set an example. I’ve given you someone who will believe in your goals and give you rationale when you need it. Someone who will allow you to see women as equals who are both strong and delicate. I’ve given you an incredible little sister.


While I know there are arguments ahead and mornings we will be running late due to bickering and blame in our future, I also know that there are moments in every day to savor. I already see the beautiful moments and swell with pride to see the two of you forming your bond together. I can only hope that one night when I hear rustling past bedtime, it’s the two of you with a flashlight inside a fort telling stories. I can only hope that when you’re teenagers and I hear a window crack in the wee hours, it’s the two of you sneaking in together after having an adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime. I can only hope that through all the ups and downs we are sure to have as a family, you’ll be there for one another.  

Photo Credit:  Alisha Skeel Photography