So much about gift-giving is rushed: the shopping, the wrapping, the opening.

What sticks? What sort of gift has the power to not just delight in the moment, but linger for the long term? Move with us through life? Change us a little bit, when we open it and forevermore?

I asked friends and colleagues and readers to tell me their most cherished gift ever. It could be a material item, or not. Given at a holiday, or not. The answers are lovely and, often, unexpected. Maybe they’ll inspire an idea or two for you this season.

“My 28-year-old daughter gave me a signed copy of Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming.” She stood in line for four hours to get it. She said it was the perfect interface between the two women she admired most. I still tear up when I think of her saying that to me. The gift was the book, but the real gift was my daughter’s words.”

— Vickie Page McHenry

“The day I apologized to my son for the mistakes I made as a father and him telling me that we all make mistakes and I was a good dad and he loved me. He is gone now, so this is something I think about and hang onto every day.”

— Bill Igyarto

“My mom made me a fleece blanket for Christmas in my 20s. ‘Made’ is a generous word. It’s a piece of cloth straight from JoAnn Fabric with unfinished edges. I was a bit heartbroken when I first opened it, but 20+ years later, it’s on my bed every winter and I refuse to let her finish it. It reminds me not to let perfection get in the way of the good.”

— Jessica Gardner

“The Easter Bunny gave me a butterfly net when I was 7. That changed my whole life!”

— Doug Taron (chief curator at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum)

“I searched 35 years for my birth family. My birth mother passed before I found her. Her stepson gave me her ashes.”

— Tina Miles

“My dad never had much stuff, but he gave me his 30th anniversary coin from AA. I carry it with me all the time, and though practically worthless, it’s among my few prized possessions.”

— John Duffy

“My grandmother’s Christmas tree topper. It’s super old and spins and puts stars all over the ceiling and walls. She had it on her tree every year and it was mesmerizing. I’m 46 and still mesmerized.”

— Kristi Hubert

“When I got elected to the national board of directors of my fraternity, one of my friends gave me a special fraternity badge. It was the badge of the founder of our chapter in Massachusetts that, at one time, got removed because they initiated a black man. With me being elected, he thought we had come full circle and wanted me to have it.”

— Marc Dumas

“A silver Hamsa bracelet my husband had made for me. I gave my niece a Hamsa necklace for Christmas before she moved to L.A. It turned out to be the last gift I’d give her. Hamsa is a symbol of protection, and I’ve always hoped she was wearing it when she died. I never take the bracelet off, keeps me feeling close to her.”

— Karen Kellams

“My dad gave me a world atlas when I was 7. It was a real bound book, like grown-ups had and my very first one like that. On the inside cover, my dad printed my full name in his perfect penmanship and had me underline it in red pencil. I treasure this atlas now because it was a gift from my dad for no reason, just because he wanted me to learn how big the world was. This atlas is also a treasure because it documents the whole world as it was in my childhood. Turning pages, I see maps with countries that now have different names or different borders. There are countries or cities missing because they did not exist. The world changed much since that time, but not that memory of my dad teaching me about it.”

— Cathy Higgins Gross

“Just recently from my husband: A picture frame with pictures of the street signs/corners of the three places we have lived together.”

— Jennifer Riederer Marler

“When I was 9 or 10, my older brother bought me a pair of bright green patent leather shoes with a matching purse for Easter.”

— Dahleen Glanton

“My daughter-in-law inviting me into the birthing room when my first grandchild was born. I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face when he saw his son entering the world, or how excited he was to share that moment with me.”

— Michelle Harris

“Seven years ago, I decided to move from Chicago to Northern California to be with my now-husband. I had worked for DePaul University for 10 years and my coworkers were a second family to me. Leaving DePaul, the job I loved and coworkers I adored was gut-wrenching. My coworkers took me to dinner on my last night. At the dinner table, they surprised me with a charm bracelet. Each of them purchased a charm that represented our relationship, a part of my personality, an inside joke or a part of my life in Chicago. I was absolutely stunned. They went around the table one-by-one and held up their charm, described why they bought it, what it meant to them about me, and put it on my new bracelet. That charm bracelet is like my lucky talisman now. When I need to be reminded that I’m a hardworking, amazing professional, I put that charm bracelet on and it’s like all the love and good wishes and positive working vibes get channeled to get me through the harder times.”

— Sarah Laggos

“When I turned 40, my parents gave me a pearl necklace. The necklace belonged to my deceased grandmother. My father had bought her those pearls with his very first paycheck. They had them cleaned and restrung just for me.”

— Julie Molony Stephan

“As an adoptive mom to two kids, I would have to say they are the two best gifts I’ve ever received from two brave birth moms.”

— Cindy Brickman Parker

“My husband gave me a small notebook for my birthday one year. I thought, ‘Great, another journal.’ But when I opened it, I was stunned. He had spent the entire month writing down each day things he noticed and appreciated about me. My eldest son brought me a bag of Lindt truffles, which he knows I love. He had carefully unwrapped each of them and written a small message of love, gratitude or appreciation and then rewrapped them so I could be lifted each time I read one. These gifts touched my heart so deeply and really made me know that I am seen and loved.”

— Sarah Zematis

“When I was a kid, I kept checking out from the library the same book of vintage magic posters over and over again. (“100 Years of Magic Posters.”) I loved it enough that I thought about it decades later but it was so rare you usually couldn’t find it on used book sites at any price. My wife kept an eye out for it for years, until she found it, bought it and gave it to me for Christmas.”

— Jenni Spinner

“The chance to be grandparents. We don’t have children, but our dear friends were able to adopt a beautiful baby boy. Between them there was only one grandparent so they asked us to be the boy’s grandparents too. I am so honored to be his Gigi and my husband is his Grand Dude.”

— Johnnie Putman

Tribune Wire

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