This is easy. When I was seven, I think, my grandparents and my mom made me a castle. Not a silly little toy castle. This was the most amazing thing you could imagine, to say nothing of the astonished wonder of a child.
It stood four feet high, fashioned from a wooden bookshelf. Three floors, carpeted staircases, chandeliers, a garden, a balcony, stained glass windows, a tower. A ballroom with tiled floors and thrones for the kind and queen. The royal bedroom, in red and purple velvet and brocade. The princesses' room, green and gold and just a hint of pink. In the round, crenelated tower, a witch, a spinning wheel, and a little half-round bench hand-carved by my grandfather. There were two princes, two princesses, the king, queen, the king's brother. There was a witch, a giant, and a fairy. Each one had clothing made by hand. There was a horse and carriage and a garden with trees, a cobbled path and a fountain with water lilies. Every inch of the outside was lovingly carved into stones, even the fronts of the drawers that made up the bottom of the shelf.
When I came down Christmas morning, there it sat, nearly as tall as I was, gleaming, the lights shimmering from the golds and silvers, from the metallic brocades and the crystal chandeliers. When I went back to school in January, we were to write a story about our favorite present, and draw a picture. I got in trouble for making things up, and when the teacher called my mom to report me, my mom had to set her straight.
I have only two very poor photos of it, and, I am sorry to say, I no longer have it. When I had to move to California, I donated it to a children's museum. I came back a year later, and they had sold it. I have no idea where it is, or who now has this rare treasure crafted by the hands of my family. But there has never been a handmade gift like that one....