As cool, thick winter folds in upon us, we are drawn inside - to warmth, light and comfort. We busy ourselves with inner tasks, make ready for the coming holidays. What is a worthy gift and how should it be presented? I ponder some of the cherished gifts I’ve received:
There was the quick, simple breakfast a neighbor once left in our refrigerator as we returned from a long, out-of-state trip. Another time, a neighbor arrived at our door bearing a bag of fresh grapefruit - “just because”. Over the years, many children, parents, co-workers, and friends have offered heartfelt notes, handmade cards and gifts. A bucket of honey from Mom; a gerbil from Bill.
I’ve enjoyed wonderful dinner time conversations around the family table, as well as coffee and cookie sessions at friends’ homes. I’ve spouted off, listened intently, laughed and cried with loved ones who willingly gave their time, space, ears, shoulders and arms. At Dad’s knee, I learned to love his Limberger cheese and radish sandwiches.
I was fortunate to have gentle, compassionate parents who lived what they believed. Twice I’ve been with a critically ill old dog as our veterinarian euthanized him. Each time, there was the gentle hand on my arm and softly-spoken “I’m so sorry”. One year, my niece sent me a Mother’s Day card.
Although I was a rampant tomboy, delighted in making model airplanes, eating lemons, raising way too many rabbits, and collecting frogs and bugs, my family always respected my individuality and supported my interests. In my daily life, there are those who know me well; know my joys, sorrows, and innermost thoughts. I believe they respect and like me in spite of that.
I desperately wanted to draw well and became frustrated when I couldn’t. Time after time, my mother urged me to take a break and try again later - but to never give up. Eventually, she told me, I’d learn what I needed to know. The year our family was going through some very personal tough times, my older sister began calling every week. She was never prying, never judgmental, nor did she offer any unsolicited advice. She was simply there.
By e-mails, phone calls, and cards, my two sisters keep in touch. Through 67 years, age differences, careers, countless moves, travels, and family traumas, we remain close. I have friends I can count on - no matter what. My husband loves me just as I am - grey hair, extra pounds, blue jeans, personality quirks and all.
Some gifts go into boxes, are wrapped with colorful papers and bows; are sealed, signed, and delivered. But the ones most treasured, and needed, have no packaging and follow no season. They are simply priceless - give all that you can.
Freely you have received, freely give.