In this series of videos, bestselling author Karen Kingsbury talks about Christmas gift-giving, the decision to add a new puppy to her family and her Red Gloves collection of Christmas stories, available from Guideposts Books
Karen Kingsbury on the Best Christmas Gifts to Give
Karen: I'm Karen Kingsbury, and with Christmas coming up, it's fun to think about, what are the best gifts to give? And, for me, for my family, it's usually something that's sentimental.
I feel like if you ask your kids or family members, what'd you get last year? What did I give you last year? A lot of times they'll draw a blank. Like, I don't even remember.
And we get so worked up about what is the perfect gift for mom, and what's the perfect thing for my son? And it's going to come down to what's sentimental. So even if you give a novel, let's say. I've had readers that say, you know, "I want to give my mom one of your books," but write a note that goes in it. Why this book? Why is it special? Why is it sentimental, and why do I think you'd want it?Guaranteed, that letter is going to be the bigger gift than anything you could tuck it into.
I'd say make it sentimental and make it maybe about photos or memories or an experience. That's another great gift. You, you know, say to your daughter, "I'd like to take you to go get our nails done, and we're going to go get coffee and just have a day together." There's nothing like that sort of gift.
You know, Christmas is a time to remember what happened with Jesus coming to this earth. And so our faith plays a huge part in the gifts that we give at Christmas time. Well, Christmas is about Jesus. It's about Jesus, the gift in the manger, the baby that came for all of us. It's the greatest gift of all, and so, in that light, I think our faith is an integral part of giving at Christmas.
So, you know, maybe it's something functional like a Bible and writing a message in the Bible or having it personalized, and there are a lot of options that you can find that way.
But I do think that keeping the focus on how are we growing eternally? How are we getting stronger in our faith and closer to Jesus at Christmastime is a great focus. And, again, that could be a gift of an experience because time together is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us.
I think the most important thing to remember when you're giving a gift is that you want that emotional impact. So it's not the money, it's not the expense of something. It's knowing the person well enough to look into their heart and to imagine what would inspire them, encourage them, honor them. And that's going to be one of the greatest gifts you can give. The key is to remember their heart, the person's heart that you're giving to and to match that.
I could never really just pick one of my favorite gifts that I've ever gotten and to say, "Hey, that was the best gift I've ever received." But I do have one that I remember. It was a Christmas when my daughter Kelsey was 15, 16 years old, and she didn't play the guitar, really--that wasn't something she had done--but she learned how to play Taylor Swift's song, Best Day.
She always thought that was our song, and we both would sing it, and we were so close when she was growing up and we'd have our special talks and our special dates together. So she learned how to play Best Day on the guitar, and she played it in front of the Christmas tree and had my son film her, so her brother filmed her.
And on Christmas morning, she put it on a DVD, back when we had DVDs, and she put it in a box, and I opened it and saw this gift, and then we popped it into the player, and I just had tears the whole time. And I will say even to this day, Kelsey's performance of Best Day on the guitar is on my laptop, on the desktop, so I can see it anytime.
[Karen's daughter Kelsey enters]
You get to be in it?
Kelsey: Just for a hug. I love you.
Karen: I love you, too.
Karen Kingsbury on Bringing Her Christmas Puppy Home
KK: I'm Karen Kingsbury. We are super excited about a story that we're going to tell today about Toby.
DK: And I'm her husband, Donald, and this is Toby, our dog Toby, who's seven years old. Hi, Tob.
KK: Well I remember the moment that it happened. We were in the kitchen. He had been kind of looking at pictures of a dog that we had lost, a dog named Reggie, who had passed away. And my husband said the thing that he later said he didn't say, he said, "You know, I think maybe it's time that we get another dog."
And we'd had a dog for 14 years and he'd gotten very sick and had to be put to sleep, and he was also a white lab. And now it had been a couple years without having a dog, and I heard him say it. I heard him say, maybe it's time to get a puppy, and my wheels began to turn.
DK: You know, when Reggie passed, it was so hard. I had to take him to the vet. And it was time, the vet said that he's he's ready to go. And so you wouldn't think it would be that difficult, but to have him laying on the table and for them to say, okay, I mean he's like 30 seconds away, and to pet him and just look in his eyes, it just broke my heart.
And I remember going home and just finding Karen and saying, "I'm done with puppies, I don't want any more dogs." That hurt, I was hurt to say goodbye to him. And I didn't really...when I said I want a puppy, [it was] just something you say. I was looking though pictures and I was just like, "You know, maybe we do need another dog," but I didn't mean it at all.
KK: Be careful what you say. [chuckles]
KK: So, you know for us, I felt like once I heard him say it, it was time to make a decision and to act on it, right Toby? So I contacted a breeder who didn't live too far away and found out he was having a litter of yellow lab, white lab puppies, to come home on Christmas eve, and I was super excited.
That was like, it was like the sign from God. Okay, well if they're ready on Christmas Eve, then this must be the right thing. So I put a deposit down and the breeder helped me pick which one. A puppy that wasn't too aggressive, not too shy, that would be perfect for our family.
And then we made a plan, got the family all gathered around. No one knew, I didn't tell anyone. I didn't want anyone talking me out of it. And at two o'clock on Christmas Eve, the doorbell rang, and it was the breeder holding this darling little white lab puppy. And the kids were just, oh they were so excited. It was like something out of a Rockwell painting with a Christmas tree in the background. And I think one of our sons started crying, like "Oh, this is the best, the best Christmas gift ever, our little puppy."
And Donald had been in the back of the house and he heard the commotion and he came up to the front and saw this little puppy and just kind of turned around.
DK: And I came around the corner and she was holding this little puppy, and I didn't react like I should have. I just...I turned around and walked away and went outside because I just had all this flood of memories of Reggie and now we got a new dog, and do we have the time to work with a dog, and the kids are all involved in sports and things at school, and no, no, no I don't want this thing.
I just heard God say, "Go back in there, go back in there." So I turned around and went back in and held him, and kind of thanked her for the gift. It probably wasn't the best thank you, but I really didn't want it, like I said. I did not want another puppy. But I'm so glad that I listened to the Lord that day.
KK: Well I knew it wasn't just about the time and the commitment 'cause he's so good with dogs. I mean, we wouldn't have a dog if it wasn't for you. You're so great at training them and spending time. They always end up being his dog, no matter what. And so I wasn't upset. I knew that his heart was hurting and that it was hard with Reggie, having lost him, and loving a puppy again.
But Christmas morning, so the next day, Donald took Toby outside and Toby was walking near the pool and fell into the ice cold water, ice cold, and he went in after him and he got him and brought him to his chest and took him really quickly back into the house and he got back into bed and he said, "I've got to keep him warm, he's just shivering." I covered him up with some blankets, just hugging that little puppy, and helping him stay warm. And I thought, he loves that dog.
It already had happened, like the transition had already happened. The transformation of, you know, "Do I really want [this], can I really do this again, to love?" had happened in that moment. And we kind of talked about it that day, you know. He warmed up and he was sitting by the Christmas tree as kids opened their presents, and we said, "You know, love hurts, like, loves comes with loss, but it's worth it, and it's worth loving again."
And now, of course, you know today, like, he's your dog, there's no question. We take him for a walk every morning. Every morning is like a brand new walk for him. He's so happy and hyper and hopeful. But he sits on my feet while I write novels. So I don't write a book without Toby just like laying on my feet. Kind of, he'll give me that look back like, "You stay in your chair."
DK: He keeps her accountable.
KK: "You have a deadline." So Toby's just become such a deep part of our family, I can't imagine life without him.
Karen Kingsbury on Her 'Red Gloves' Christmas Book Collection
Hey, I'm Karen Kingsbury and I have the perfect gift for you this Christmas. My friends at Guideposts are putting together a collection of my Red Gloves books. It's going to be three of these favorite Christmas stories of mine. And the really great thing is at the back of these books, there are a list of projects that you and your family can do this Christmas to help someone else.
So it's kind of twofold, it's a gift, it's a story that'll lift you and encourage you and be emotional for you, but also a way for you to give back.
So let me tell you about the three books in this special gift package. Gideon's Gift, that's the story of a sick little girl and an angry homeless man and the gift that changes both of their lives forever. This one will kind of help you to understand a little bit about the plight of the homeless community. At the back of the book, there are some projects and ways that you can give back.
Next is Sarah's Song and it is about a woman who is in her nineties and she is living through her last Christmas. She's remembering Christmasses past and the love of her life and wanting to share the beautiful story with someone else who needs help. So the back of this book, there are ways for you to get involved with helping the elderly. Stopping by and singing carols or bringing Christmas gifts to a retirement home near you.
And then we have Hannah's Hope and Hannah's Hope is a story about a girl, Hannah, who is missing her father who's serving in the military. She has not seen him for many months. Also, Hannah's dad is having some struggles with his wife, with Hannah's mom. And so this is a book that'll help you to really understand the sacrifice that military people make for us, the men and women who serve. And at the back of the book there are some project ideas that will help you to get involved with giving back to the military. They do need our support, especially at Christmastime.
This gift set is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Guideposts has decided to do this just for you. And I'm so excited that you would have a chance to get all three of these Red Gloves books. Now the red gloves that are in each of these stories are a way for you to remember that red is the color of giving. It's the color of Christmas.
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