I wish I would have been a little wiser and more appreciative when I received “the gift” for Christmas many years ago.

I come from a large family, and we gather together every Christmas Eve to exchange gifts. It became a tradition for all of the spouses to exchange gifts on this night also. One particular Christmas Eve, which I nicknamed the “precious metals” Christmas, all of the women were squealing in delight. Well, almost all.

One after one they opened gifts of diamond rings, diamond earrings and beautiful pieces of jewelry. I started ripping the paper off of the gift from my husband in high anticipation. The box was large and heavy. Surely he must have put my gift in a large box and weighed it down to deceive me.

But, no. He had not.

Much to my dismay, it was a large, gumbo-size Magnalite pot. Oh, and let’s not forget the flannel sheets he had tucked inside.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I managed a brief smile and thanked him. Then I quietly left the room and burst into tears, feeling unloved and unappreciated.

How unromantic could he be?

Forget the fact that I had been wanting a large pot to cook gumbo in for some time. Forget the fact that I had mentioned several times how nice it would be to have flannel sheets for those cold, winter nights. At that time, I could not focus on how much thought he had put into the gift. I could only focus on the fact that everyone else had diamonds and jewelry — precious metals — and my precious metal was Magnalite.

Many years have passed since that Christmas Eve, but I never forget the valuable lesson I learned from that night. I was placing a lot of value in things, but things don’t matter, people do. While I like to receive jewelry as a gift as much as anyone, love and thoughtfulness are not measured by the amount of money spent and not always tucked inside of a small box with a big bow.

Although a lot of expensive and romantic gifts were exchanged that night, not one of my siblings is still married to the diamond-bearing spouses. However, the girl with the pot is still married to the same man and still cooking in that Magnalite pot. And the flannel sheets? Well, we had to retire those a long time ago, but they kept me warm many a night.

Hmmmm … turns out my pot was the most “precious metal” of the night after all.

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