First, let’s flash back to the late 60s when yours truly was a young whipper snapper on a Christmas shopping spree for her two uncles and assorted family members. At the DIME store [these existed before today’s DOLLAR stores] I perused aisles searching for perfect gifts. I had $1 and was confident I’d pick the best gifts ever!
I can’t believe how patient my parents were! They took me and my two younger sisters who are twins several times during our elementary years. But back to me.
After carefully examining the offerings I remember two specific choices. For Uncle Bill – a vice president type for a national trucking firm at that time – I chose a box of paper clips. Every businessman needs paper clips and I was certain that the ones I selected were the best of all time. For Uncle Bob who is still in marine related law enforcement, I chose thumb tacks. My memory’s a little fuzzy here about why but thumb tacks were my gift of choice.
I wrapped each tiny box and anxiously awaited my uncles’ surprised and grateful faces on Christmas morning as my family gathered at Maw Maw’s and Paw Paw’s for the unwrapping festivities.
Of course, Uncles Bob and Bill were both thankful and speechless for reasons upon which you are welcome to speculate. I relished the fact that I had chosen such perfect gifts for my loving uncles.
Here and Now
Now fast forward to Christmas, 2009.
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it and much of that had to do with news about one sister’s cancer journey. But of course, Christmas would still come and me and my family still went to my parents where we routinely gathered to celebrate.
When we’re all together there are 15 of us. My dad says when we all show up it’s like Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus and when we leave it’s like Culley and Sons Funeral Home. (My hometown really has a funeral home with this name!) Since my maiden name is Bailey the circus analogy is rather fitting since there are 7 grandchildren between the ages of 11 and 18.
But back to me.
It was almost present opening time. Everyone sat anxiously with their gifts beside their chairs as we started the one-by-one procedure thereby allowing us to all see what each other received. Of course, this present opening policy was NOT present during the years of young children.
Two gifts I especially want to mention came from my only niece and one of my youngest nephews. The niece is a teenager and earns income by babysitting; she had used her own money to buy me the adorable gift you see pictured. It’s a funky baby sock with a closure for loose change and bills if you want to toss them in. The unusual and colorful are also favorites of mine. My heart warmed knowing the sacrifice she had made on my behalf.
My nephew’s gift was sentimental and shrewd. At 11, he was elected president of his 5th grade class and he already knows the value of not alienating his constituents (aka his favorite aunt) . His school had a Christmas gift shop and he selected a beautiful golden star ornament that said #1 Aunt. He also presented my other sister with another featuring the same sentiment! I love it nonetheless.
My Favorite Gift
But my favorite gift of all…besides the family time…besides watching all the kid cousins playing “dead or alive” football in the front yard…or eating from the plethora of Christmas cookies lovingly baked by mom was a gift that needed no unwrapping. If you were to ask everyone there with me that day – not only would they say they received the same gift, but that they were happy for it as well.
It wasn’t a “one size fits all” garment. It wasn’t a blanket with sleeves. It was a gift that sustained us, encouraged us and made Christmas Christmas.
The gift was comfort and joy.
We hadn’t had tidings of it before Christmas and future days will be uncertain but somehow despite it all – no, in spite of it all – God gave what became my favorite gift.
Comfort and joy are hard to explain. Their added dividend of peace is even more amazing. And while I adore my special sock and my aunt ornament, I know comfort and joy aren’t exclusively mine. God’s storehouse of love is brimming with them – for each of us.
There’s enough comfort and joy to go around – the whole world. Want some?
Just asking: What’s your favorite gift from this last Christmas and why? It doesn’t have to be “spiritual” in nature.