2013 Gifts That Came Without a Wrapping (from Lisa Wingate)

Happy Monday, Everyone!  It’s great to find you here on the porch in these last few days of 2013.  Each year, after the gifts are unwrapped, and the guests have gone home, and the Christmas tree sits lonely and forlorn in the corner of the room like a colorful party hat that’s been left behind after the party, I sit alone in the quiet with only the tree lights on and unwrap a few special gifts I’ve saved for just for myself.  They’re quiet things, these gifts.   The wrappings don’t rattle and the bows aren’t difficult to untie.

In fact, they come without all the usual trappings, but they’re treasures all the same.  Memories are gifts we can open again and again.  Today, I thought I’d invite you along to sit at the Christmas tree with me and reopen some of the special gifts of 2013.


Christmas at home with the man-children. Yes, I realize we’re stretching into 2012 here, but snapping this photo early on Christmas morning, I’m aware that will be the last Christmas we’re all living under the same roof. Graduations loom ahead in 2013, and I know these rites of passage will change everything.


A New Year’s trip to the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico. With our big boy graduating from college later in the year, we don’t know whether we’ll all be able to get away together next year, so this vacation, with its beautiful, fresh snow is especially precious.


Spring brings a visit from my friend, Ed Stevens, whose life history inspired my 2011 novel, Dandelion Summer. Here, he’s at a book event with me, showing a reader his favorite page of the book.


Spring isn’t just about wildflowers, it’s about the high school boy’s senior season of baseball. Sitting in the stands, I can’t help watching this almost-grown mini-man and thinking that it seems like just yesterday he was standing in the front yard with a plastic bat and a tee. Where does the time go, I wonder?


And speaking of rites of passage, there is, of course, prom. This red tuxedo is so typical of the high-school boy. It causes quite a stir. Others think he surely won’t show up to the prom in this thing. He does, of course… spats and all. He’s a big hit.


The prayer box travels the country via mail in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. What a joy and a blessing to hear from women all over the country reading early copies of the book in “sister circles.” As much fun as creating imaginary people can be, it’s the real people you meet along the way who matter most.


Graduation days arrive — first for the college boy, then for the high school boy. A double graduation year is a monumental thing, but also bittersweet. Life is changing.


A rare family moment on the porch is a treasure as summer rushes by.


A little time at the lake in the man-child’s beloved fishing boat isn’t bad either ;)


Over the summer, the high-school boy does many a household project for his mama. Even so, when I find these footprints on the kitchen table… I’m afraid to even ask what they’re doing there.


Occasionally we sneak away for a walk and find an unexpected gift like this butterfly enjoying snowball flowers.


Suddenly, it’s time for college dropoff, far, far from home at Texas Tech University. The high school boy is not a high school boy anymore. His big brother is already working a first real job, and now the little brother is a great, big college boy himself. Only one of the pout lips in this photo is real. Can you guess which one?


Sometimes God sends little reminders that there’s a time to every purpose.


Fall brings The Prayer Box book tour and a chance to represent Southern BelleView at the Southern Independent Booksellers conference and hang out with Julie Cantrell. What a joy!


The book tour ends on the Outer Banks, where The Prayer Box is set. The women of Hatteras Island were incredibly gracious on this lovely night before a wild nor’easter blew in.


Fall brought a new baby to the family. After an extensive set of interviews, Huckleberry is hired as official ENTP (Empty Nest Therapy Pup) of the Wingate Household. He brings important skills to the job, such as incredible cuteness, a high degree of huggability, and and endlessly waggeldy tail.


We’re reminded that any day filled with laughter is a good day.


The ladies of the McGregor Tiara Literary Society put on an amazing fundraiser dinner for their library and decorate each of the tables to match one of my books. I’m surprised, honored, humbled and just plain awed. This Moses Lake table comes complete with gummy worms in bait containers!


The new college boy returns for Christmas break and bonds with his cuddly-wuddly new little brother. I think they look a bit alike, don’t you?


Once again, there are boy shoes in random places all over the house.

Once again, the Christmas tree is all set.  It's beautiful, and even if we can't put presents under it this year (because someone will eat them) all's right with the world.

The Christmas tree is all set. It’s beautiful, and even if we can’t put presents under it this year (because someone will eat them) all’s right with the world.

That’s a bit of our year in review —  a few of the gifts that came without a wrapping. Wherever this note finds you, I hope it finds you unwrapping some special memories and counting your blessings, too 😉

Happy New Year from the Wingate House!


What about you?  What were some of the special “gifts without a wrapping” of your 2013?

The Prayer Box — Selected as One of Booklist’s Top Ten of 2013!


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  1. teresa Colby says

    my 3 yr old grandson lives w/me and other than a wonderful Christmas Eve Dinner I host for my whole family..my best present was seeing the woner and joy of a 3 yr old opening gifts from Santa on Christmas Morning…since all my kids are grown ..Santa hasn’t been around like this in many yrs..it brings back so many wonderful memories of Christmas’s past as well as new memories with my grandson…

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Oh, Teresa, what a blessing to be spending Christmas with a 3 year old and having Santa visit the tree again! I know this must bring back so many wonderful memories. There’s nothing like those “Santa” years!

  2. Shellie says

    Lisa, what fun! I enjoyed your year in review. The footprints on the table– too funny. :)
    I look forward to what 2014 has for all of us here at SBV. :)

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Yes, the footprints on the table were a mystery. Gotta love those man children!

      I’m looking forward to 2014 on the porch, too!

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Hi Karen! I’m so glad you’re here on the porch today. I’ve enjoyed being able to share these moments on Fb. What a year it has been!


  3. Leah Loyer says

    Christmas is such a magical time of the year! We had a wonderful holiday season. It’s always nice to have all of the family together and look at them and enjoy the craziness!

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Leah, I’m so glad you had a wonderful holiday season. Yes, it’s crazy having the whole family in one place (we had 19, which was definitely a houseful) but it’s such a blessing 😉

  4. Sharon says

    What a lovely glimpse of the inner Lisa and your family, Lisa. Thanks so much for sharing all those special moments in pictures and words.

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Hi Rachel! Yes, ma’am it has been a crazy year. I’ve loved being able to share it with the Belles and porch friends here.

      Happy New Year to you down there in Florida!!


  5. Doris says

    I loved your year end memory review! My special memory for 2013 is a new (and first) great grand baby who arrived on my husband’s birthday. We look forward to seeing you in April.

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Doris, what a blessing. Having a first great grand baby would definitely be a memorable event, and to have the baby arrive on your husband’s birthday. Such a wonderful surprise!

      Looking forward to coming in April!


  6. Carol Maguire says

    You are fantastic! Your writing is a gift and I feel I have just unwrapped it and enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing!!! Lots of love to you and many blessing for this upcoming new year!!

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Thank you, Carol! You are a treasure. Thank you for sharing my moments with me. What a joy to have the chance to get to know you in person this year!

      Blessings to you and your family this year!!!


  7. Julie Cantrell says

    I echo these sweet comments, Lisa. You are FANTASTIC, and we all love you. This was such a treat! I feel like I have made this journey with you this year, and I loved the memory stroll. What a beautiful collection of love, laughter, light, and joy. Hugs and Happy New Year!

  8. Linda Foust says

    Hi Lisa, I LOVE your books and just jumped the library again to get The Prayer Box in. Want to read it so much.
    My SPECIAL joy, Gift from God, a Prayer answered, a relief to my anxious stressed out mind was…..MY HUSBAND WAS CURED OF CANCER.
    He fought a great fight all year, with next to no complaints, other than the hot flashes he got from his hormone shot. He then went through 45 radiation treatments with no complaints.
    That all stopped in Sept., we had to wait for 6 weeks for the drugs to clear his body and we then received word that all tests and exams were negative.
    Thank you Dear God, for giving me the best gift in 2013.

    • Lisa Wingatee says

      Praise the LORD, Linda! Thank you for sharing that. What an incredible blessing after a tough battle!

      May 2014 bring a peaceful, joyous year for you and your husband.


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