Looking around my living room I see bits and pieces of wrapping paper and ribbons still littering the floor. Presents freshly unwrapped are stacked in one corner, waiting to be put away. Holiday candles and Christmas tree lights are glowing as the snow swirls outside my window and a favorite old movie is on TV.
It's almost bedtime on the day after Christmas. Family and friends have come and gone and soon the goodies will be, too, if not the extra pounds.
What was your favorite present this year?
Was it something homemade? Something you'd longed for or something you didn't even realize you wanted?
I've discovered the older I get, the less I remember the gifts I received and the more I remember the gifts I gave. I remember most the planning, the plotting, the saving, the shopping, even the clever wrapping of that perfect gift for someone special. Those are the memories that stick with me, more than what was in those boxes with my name on the label.
The gift is in the giving.
Last year we flew to Texas the week before Christmas for the memorial service for my mother-in-law. My husband, a Baptist minister, led the service. His sister and her daughters sang “It Is Well With My Soul”. I don't know how they managed to hold it together, unless it was the thought that their mother believed they could do anything and would have expected nothing less of them.
My mother-in-law was a great lady who made things happen and who also knew the value of a quiet, unplanned day.
When we visited her she gave us wonderful home cooked meals
whirlwind shopping trips
Thinking of her I realized what my favorite gift was this Christmas.
Time with my daughter, who no longer lives under my roof. I'm so grateful she's close enough to visit now and then. Time to get to know someone special she brought home with her this year.
Time with my younger daughter who is finishing high school in a few months, to watch glimpses of the little kid she once was before it's her turn to take on the world beyond our door.
Time with my husband, to see his burdens briefly lifted by the presence of our daughters, knowing that for a little while he's not thinking about the job hunt that continues to drag on much too long or a hundred other worries that weigh heavily on his mind during his long commute to his “in-between” part-time job every day.
Time for phone calls full of laughter
with relatives who live too far away for visits,
yet they are always in my heart.
Time to tell my daughters about them and
share memories of my childhood Christmases,
introducing them to family members they never got the chance to meet,
loved ones I sometimes see in their smiles
and hear in their laughter.
You can't wrap that up neatly and stick a bow on it.
Time and love.
I hope your life is full of both in the new year.