– by Mary May Larmoyeux –
It was the early 60s—an era of Chatty Cathy, Barbie, and baby dolls of all sizes and shapes. That particular Christmas I remember giving my next-door neighbor the most wonderful present my mother and I could find. Something she would treasure … a reminder of our friendship.
I remember her ripping the paper and the thrill in her eyes when she discovered a beautiful doll with hand-painted features. And then, with anticipation of what my neighbor had chosen especially for me, I tore into the gift-wrapped rectangular package that she had placed in my hands.
Much to my disappointment, she had given me a book. An ordinary book. And then my friend’s mother said something like, “We have something else for you, Mary” as she opened a closet filled with stacks of wrapped presents. Even as a young child I knew that she was somehow trying to make things “equal.”
But I didn’t come that day to get equal presents. I had come to give an exceptional gift.
As Christmas approaches, I can’t help but ask myself: What makes a gift exceptional?
From the heart or from the hand?
Gifts come in all sizes and shapes. Some are handmade while others are store-bought. To me, the heart behind the gift is what really matters.
I think of a special picture that a granddaughter for me a few ago. “It’s you, Nana,” she said, when she handed me the Crayola-sketch of a dark-haired girl in slacks.
That simple drawing still means a lot to me. It’s hanging on my cubicle wall at work, and when I look at it I remember spending days and hours and moments with my little legacy. I’m reminded of the priceless value of family.
And there’s another picture on that wall: a pencil-drawn butterfly, created by a co-worker’s child. One day she approached my desk with several drawings. I smiled, thinking that she was about to give one of her masterpieces to me. Holding her pictures, she asked a question, “Would you want to buy one for 50 cents?”
Of course I did. But the sketch I paid for can’t compare in value to my granddaughter’s free gift. It was from her heart.
Gifts from the heart are invaluable. Gifts from the hand? Why they may be quite costly.
But what happens when a gift won’t be received?
I’m reminded of what I think of as the worst Christmas of my life. The best way to describe the situation is to say that I had a disagreement with someone I’ll call Sue. Now, Sue wasn’t just a casual acquaintance. I loved her dearly. Wanting to resolve our differences at the holidays, I chose some special gifts for her and put them under the Christmas tree.
I invited Sue over to the house.
She didn’t come.
I told her that I had some Christmas gifts for her.
She didn’t care.
She simply refused a gift from my heart.
As we give gifts this Christmas, may we question our motives. Are they from the heart … without any hidden cost?
And as we receive gifts, may we accept them with gratitude, knowing that someone had to pay for whatever is in the package.
But whether we give or receive Christmas gifts, may we ponder the One whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day. Jesus didn’t come to earth to receive a present. He humbled Himself to offer a gift we don’t deserve, eternal life. (Luke 2 and John 3:16)
May we not refuse such an exceptional gift.
© 2014 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.
Picture © Daniel Demočko | Dreamstime.com
Mary is the co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart.