Rather than me and my bothers and sisters picking out Christmas gifts for each other, this year we decided that we'd each bless someone outside the family who needed it. When we get together at Christmas, we'll tell who we gave to and how.
We've given a fair amount to various people over the last couple of years, and sometimes the recipient doesn't say thanks; sometimes, more subtly, the thanks is just for the gift itself, and you feel like saying "Hey, don't you understand? I care about you!" (I'm sure there have been a number of occasions when I've muttered "But why did you get this, I never wear plaid!" or "What ever led you to think I'd read a book like that?", and the giver--frequently my long suffering my wife, mom, or sister--has, with difficulty, restrained herself from swatting me with the closest frying pan). Fortunately this time I was on the giving end and things worked out better.
For our Christmas blessee, Diana and I picked a dear friend, a single mom who runs herself ragged to make sure her kids have everything they need--not just food and clothes but also piano lessons and ball games and transport to and fro. She's perpetually exhausted, but also cheerful, thoughtful, sweet, and has a great heart. We visited her on Monday night to have dinner and exchange gifts. Hers was a travel bag, pink with white polka dots, a girly thing which was perfect for her. And then Diana opened up the bag and behold!, more gifts: spa treatments, gift card, bath salts, another gift card, this and that and so on. Our friend got misty eyed, finally welling up with tears and runny mascara and tissues, and hugs all round. It was a beautiful moment because she understood that we were really saying we love her.
Lord, as we approach Christmas, help me to be grateful for the people and for their giving, regardless of what they give.
Er...but, Lord--no plaid this time, please?