When my children were little I wanted to teach them to "give" to others. There were times when we helped someone in the church, times when I made sure they gave gifts to someone in need, times when we visited nursing homes and they always took a gift to birthday parties. I stressed the importance of being kind and remembering those we love. I stressed that it wasn't the price of the gift or even the popularity of the gift. The important thing was to remember the person you cared for and to give of yourself. Spend time thinking about what that person is about and how you can give them something they want - not something you want.
All you parents know the routine...cover all the bases so children are well rounded and not selfish or unthoughtful. But there was one area I provided little training in - gifts for Me. I made sure they had paper and glue so they could make me a card. I made sure they tried their hand at planting flowers or making toast for breakfast in bed. When the children were about six, Ron assured me it was time to give them spending money and allow them to go to the store and purchase a gift for me. I thought they needed guidance. Ron felt they needed freedom of expression. "Let them purchase something from their own heart", he said.
I waited at home while Ron patiently walked Jamie and Amie age six with Ken age two - up and down the store aisle looking for just the right present. On my birthday I was served toast dripping with jelly and a twenty minute boiled egg. It took a lot of coffee to get that one down. Ron grinned from ear to ear as I received two gifts. The wrapping was about two inches thick and tied with enough ribbon to make a large bow for my front door. There was three hand made cards with X's and O's covering every inch that wasn't occupied by large hearts.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I embraced the love of my children. I giggled and began to unwrap one of the presents. As I tore away layer after layer of paper the children jumped up and down and said, "Oh mommy, you will be so surprised!"
It was lipstick. I was thrilled....until....they said...."Put some on Mommy." How can you refuse a request like that? I grabbed a mirror and pushed the lipstick up. "Keep a smile on your face" I thought to myself. "Don't let them know what you really think."
That tube of lipstick was the most awful psychedelic pink I'd ever seen. I felt like a clown putting it on. I smiled and kissed each child leaving as much of the lipstick on them as possible.
The second gift was matching hot psychedelic pink nail polish. I smiled and proceeded to paint my nails. I looked like I had glowing nuclear nails. But my children's eyes...now that's where the real story lived. They were so excited that they had bought me a present and that it was something that made me look "beautiful" - well...beautiful to them.
Ron also had tears running down his cheeks. Tears of intense internal laughing. Every so often I would catch him holding his mouth and laughing as much as possible without letting the children see. Once he came over and said, "Kiss me baby, I'm excited by your electric look of fire." I won't tell you my response.
After my birthday, the gifts went into the drawer....hopefully to be forgotten. A few days later Amie came home from kindergarten. "Mommy! I told Jenny how beautiful you are. I told her we made your smile the prettiest smile in Conyers."
That's when I knew. It wasn't the psychedelic hot pink that was important - it was the love behind it. I saw her heart that day. I knew that her heart could only be happy if my heart was happy. Her love bought the gift but it was my love that needed to receive it to make it meaningful for both of us. I found the meaning behind heartfelt gifts. Gifts that are given with the deepest love.
I still have that half used tube of lipstick and dried up bottle of nail polish. It's one of the most treasured gifts I own. Every time I look at it I see my children's eyes and I see love.
Give from your heart this season - and more importantly - Receive with your heart.
God loves you,