I love giving gifts to people! It is just such a pleasurable thing to either find something I think is perfect, or think of something I can make, that I know a person will love and appreciate. Maybe deep down I just love having an excuse to spend money and/or time on others; whatever it is, the act of gifting just makes me feel all happy inside.
So, why am I sometimes so lousy at this thing I love? This year, I somehow just ran out of steam, time, energy, whatever, and didn't give to a few folks who really mean a lot to me. It kind of boggles my mind that I didn't make the effort to make it happen. And then, as Christmas chugged into being, and ran past me, I felt kind of embarrassed that I neglected these folks. So, now I feel silly calling, and feel kind of silly running out and getting "something" to ease my guilt. I'm honestly not trying to "get away with" skipping out on my "gift duty" but it feels that way inside. I think the issue is that I don't really know what to give, as we've kind of grown apart over the past few years, and all I can think of is cash or gift cards, and I don't get a good feeling giving cash or gift cards. They seem so impersonal. Perhaps that is exactly this issue here . . . it's hard to enjoy giving a gift when you don't know whether it's wanted or not. I just don't care for the idea of giving gifts just because I'm "supposed" to. I guess I selfishly just want to, but I need to have some inspiration or guidance or motivation, if that makes any sense!
Well, the real purpose of this post, which has still managed to take on a life of it's own that wasn't intended, was to reflect on the heart gifts I either received or was involved with in some way this year. My husband gave me a totally unexpected gift, that I didn't ask for, and didn't think I could ask for. Christmas morning there was this large box stuck way behind the tree, and it was the last thing I opened. It was a printer! Now this may not seem so great to most people, and I felt kind of bad about it because I just got a new "free" printer last summer. But, the "free" printer was a pain in the neck. The printing of photos was really bad, even after I bought new color cartridges, and I was trying to print some invitations and having so much grief, and yelling, quite a lot, at the "free" printer. So, I think the printer was kind of a gift to himself (so he doesn't have to hear me cursing at the old printer anymore) but, hey, I'll take a love gift when it's given to me! Now, I still haven't set up the new printer, as I'm kind of intimidated by it, but I'll get around to it, or get motivated when I want to print off photos again! (The old one does fine with black and white documents!)
I received several love gifts from my daughters at Christmas that I adored. Kailyn made me two more pair of wonderfully creative earrings, in the colors I most desired, and they are stunning. Over the years I've had many compliments on my earrings, and they are usually ones that she has made. She also framed one of my very favorite photos of her and I from her graduation that is especially precious to me. Kailyn has a way of finding just the right photos and I appreciate that she takes the time to look for them and put them together in ways that work. She made a "Christmas Set" for me last year, and a book of "Beach House Memories" that commemorate times spent as a family when the girls were growing up.
This year, I was an outsider, watching Kailyn design and put together a quilt for her boyfriend. I watched as this younger version of myself, cut and sewed and ripped out imperfect seams, and re-sewed. Her tenacity amazed me; she refused to give up, even after realizing that the pattern she chose would be challenging for an experienced quilter (one I wouldn’t have chosen because I hate matching a million half-square triangles!) she just kept plugging away. At one point, she came into the room where I was reading with a square and a seam ripper and said, “I’ve sewn this one together wrong two times!” Yet, her words were calm, she was smiling, and cheerfully ripping out the stitches to try again.
I was bothered by the memory of my angry, frustrated self, until later when Kailyn told me that she really appreciated my teaching over the years, and that she couldn’t have attempted to do what she did without the previous experiences we’d had at the sewing machine together. And I realized, I must have done a pretty good job, as she was a talented seamstress! I had no one helping me as I learned to sew, it was all by trial and error, and there were a lot of errors! I was reminded once more of the dress I made for myself on my hand crank toy Singer sewing machine in 8th grade. My dad was convinced that I was determined to learn to sew and bought me a used sewing machine for Christmas that year. I remember that he took me aside and explained that it was expensive and that was the reason it was my only gift. That machine was precious to me for many, many years and I regret that while I no longer have it, I have the memory of that first sewing machine, and my dad's gift to me.
So, gifts are good! Sometimes, gifts are tangible, visible, and perpetual. These gifts wrap you in love, literally, as in a warm quilt, or emotionally, as you catch a glimpse of a precious gift as you pass by. The memories and emotional connections linger as I savor the growth, experiences, time, effort, and sacrifice that carried these gifts from the giver to me. Heart gifts wrap us up and bind us to those we love.