When Christmas is close we can’t help but think about gifts. Both gifts we have given others, and gifts we have received. One of my favorite Christmas songs was on an album (yep, that’s how I still think….. album) by Barbara Streisand. “The Greatest Gift I Ever Got” talks about the gift not costing a lot… Although, truth be told, the gift she is speaking about is a baby. And babies do. Cost. A. LOT! However, I digress…..
When you think back about the gifts you have received over the years, it most often isn’t the ones that cost the most that you remember. And, being the age I am now……. a whoppin’ old 60, I have a LOT of gifts I can think back on. Most AREN’T remembered years later, sad as that may be.
Sometimes the ones we remember are the goofiest ones ever! The ones where you received them and thought….. “Really? Really? This person thought this was an appropriate gift?” “They really thought I’d like this? Need this? WANT this?” I remember when I married my kids’ dad… (remember readers, if you’ve been paying attention, I either have to number them, or refer to them by a phrase that will help you to remember. This husband was husband # 2, “My kids’ dad” is the phrase I typically use. There could be a pop quiz on this at some point, so write this down so you can refer back later….)
Again, I digress……where was I? Oh yes. When I married my Kids’ dad, we had a big wedding. All the typical bells and whistles….. the hotel reception, band, food, drinks. I was marrying a man with more kids than a basketball team (I think, anyway. I’m not much of a sports person.) So, it’s not just two little newlyweds starting out life. We were the Brady Bunch on steroids. Some jackass gives us 2……. count them 2 REALLY ugly rust colored cloth placemats with matching napkins. Dollar stores didn’t exist then, but if they had, these wouldn’t be sold there because they weren’t nice enough. I DO, however, remember them some 38 years later……. The ugly rust “sets of two” were closely followed up by the 2 “napkin rings” another wedding attendee gave us which looked like hamburgers that you stuck your napkins through. Almost equally ugly on the gift giving spectrum. Both attendees were obviously friends, to have given these gifts – and in the quantity they chose. Just in case we decided to have a romantic little “hamburger” picnic somewhere without the kids in tow, I suppose………
Back to the story line here. When you think back to the best gifts that you ever got, they usually aren’t the most expensive. They are often the most thoughtful. Many times, they were something that someone took the time to make for you by hand.
I’ve been giving this a bit of thought of late. What was the best gift I’ve ever gotten? I can’t really narrow it down to just one gift. But I can narrow it down to a few.
I had wanted to skydive since I was a teenager. I never had done it, for a number of reasons. The biggest reason was that my husbands (yes, plural. And yes, all of them) always said the same thing. “No wife of mine is going to jump out of a plane.” WTF is wrong with men- that they don’t want you to jump outta’ a plane? Possessive bastards!
So, after I got rid of the last husband…. (in case you are paying attention, and want to have the answer for the pop quiz. he was #3 and is fondly referred to as “The financial fuck-up.” Write this down so you can refer back when needed.)
As I was saying……. after I got rid of the last hubby, I wanted more than EVER to jump out of a plane. I’m a thrill seeker, and I love trying anything daring, fun and different. My daughter surprised me, and her brother by buying us tickets to sky-dive together! A TOTAL surprise, and one of my favorite gifts EVER. After all, if you ARE going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and if the worst should happen, go with all of your children along. That way you won’t leave behind any grieving kiddos! As you can probably surmise by the fact that you are reading this blog……… it all worked out well in the end! SUCH great fun, in fact, that we all 3 purchased another ticket to come back again and jump out together one more time!
Don, my current (and permanent- if I’ve got any say in the matter) man bought me a hang gliding experience last year, but time hasn’t permitted me jumping off a cliff yet! I can’t wait to do it though!
One of the other gifts that meant the world to me came from a person I don’t even know. A number of years ago, a package came in the mail. In it was a beautifully framed, counted cross-stitch picture. It says “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2”. In the package was a note, thanking me for letting this person in to make a call when they were lost. You can tell how long ago this was, because it was before we had cell phones! We lived in Rancho Santa Fe, and it was pretty easy to get turned around and lost out there. And I was one of those trusting people who let someone come in and make a call to figure out where they needed to be. It had happened more than once, so when this unexpected gift showed up, I barely remembered the incident.
When the gift arrived in the mail I was surprised. Number 1, it hadn’t seemed like a big deal to me. Number 2, I had done counted cross stitch, and trust me…… I don’t like ANYONE well enough to spend the time and effort to do it for THEM! This little 6×6 framed saying has remained out in my home every day in the 25-30 years that I have owned it. It is very pretty, but it’s much more than that. Every time I look at it I have 2 thoughts. What I did, in the smallest kindness, for whatever reason meant a lot to someone else. AND, what they did for me meant so much to me.
We don’t know how a small kindness might affect someone else. Just a kind word telling someone what a great job they are doing, how festive their holiday attire is, how you noticed THEIR kindness to someone else could mean more than you will EVER know.
So, in this time of gift giving— busyness, hustle and bustle, please remember to give the greatest gift of all. Kindness. It doesn’t cost anything, but can make the world of difference.