The worst gifts can be the best!

The worst gifts can be the best!

January 5, 2018 Fun LIfe Random 0

As Christmas comes to a close and we set forth into a new year, perhaps there is time to play with your new toys, cash in that certificate or even return those items you didn’t want for cash to get what you really, “need”. As you decide how your gifts work or what to do with the outpouring of generosity thrust upon you this season, allow me to reflect on a tale of giving from the purist perspective, that of a nine-year-old who knows nothing but love for her mother.

In our home, we have a tradition between my kids and me at Christmas. We go shopping alone for their mother; I provide some guidance but ultimately they get to choose how to share their love with her. This year’s experience was particularly noteworthy. I feel I should start with full transparency from the very beginning; my daughter bought my wife dish soap. There you go, it is out there. For those of you who went back to read that sentence again—you read that correctly, and right now you are probably thinking, “wow, one step worse than a vacuum cleaner”.  If you would indulge me for just a moment and reserve judgment, you just might change your opinion on what a true gift is.

Before placing that perfectly wrapped present under the tree, we must carefully select the item, which truly expresses all a gift should.  In order to find such a gift, my daughter insists on one particular store, a store that mommy loves and goes to all the time.  The entire car submits, even after providing gift options that are sure to be a hit.  Upon arrival, I ask, “OK, what would you like to get Mom here”?  I am met with an a gassed response, “I don’t know, I have to look at everything”.  We all take suite and walk the store intensely looking to choose the perfect gift.  Finally, and all at once, with great enthusiasm, my daughter darts off and disappears down an aisle.  Knowing we have already passed the departments where the standard gifts reside, we immediately follow with curiosity.  When we are reunited, we round the corner of an aisle to see the epitome of pride and joy as my nine-year-old is standing there holding a bottle of dish soap.

The first words to emerge from her mouth? “Mommy loves this soap”!  Was this a true statement from my bright-eyed and inspired nine year old?  Why, yes it was!  However, my response negated the inspiration that had taken over every morsel of her little, yet pure, soul.  I was certain to bring a smile to my face before opening my mouth and explaining, “Yes she does, but is that really a good gift to choose?”  As soon as those words escaped my lips, I felt horrendously dirty, perhaps it was my daughter’s deflated reaction, or maybe it was the fact that I had simply not accepted her initiation.  We left that aisle and proceeded with our evening, choosing other gifts we knew she would like, but the impact of that small moment stayed with me.  It lingered far past the duration of that evening, even longer than the rest of the week.  It continued through the weekend and well into the next week.  The impact of that moment did not subside until I found myself back at the very same store, in the very same aisle, minus that nine-year-old’s inspiration leading me, or maybe it was.  That is the moment I realized the dish soap was the perfect gift, and it represented so much more than soap.

It was my daughter telling her mommy – that she listens to her.  Not just with her ears, but with every part of her.
It was my daughter telling her mommy – that she does not just pay attention to the big things, but rather the smaller details of her life.
It was my daughter telling her mommy – I can now be with you when you are doing one of your most menial tasks.

That dish soap, which was so simple and boring a gift, was subconsciously more thoughtful than many gifts we chose.  I instantly picked up the dish soap, and as if that was not enough, to build on the inspiration of my brilliant daughter, I eagerly selected a hand soap to complete the gift.  Sometimes when giving gifts, the gift chooses its recipient instead of being chosen, and if we can allow ourselves to trust that, we can begin to give with all ourselves.

You cannot choose your gifts, but if you try, you can choose to see the best in each gift you receive.  A true gift is not always the prettiest or most expensive thing, sometimes gifts come in unexpected forms, which take deeper insight than even the wisest can see in the moment.  Many things in life are gifts which we glance right over without a second thought.  Give them a second, and sometimes, a third thought!  The true gifts of life are not objects at all; they are around us at all times, circling, eagerly awaiting us to notice, incorporate and be inspired by them.

Gifts are the unspoken words behind an object.

Gifts are information bestowed upon us, either wanted or thrust into our lives.

Gifts are the specificity with which we are loved.

Gifts are …

What are you going to do with your gifts?  Put them in the back of a closet?  Ignore them?  Exchange them?  Embrace the gift that found you and weave it into the pattern of your life. Those are the things which make your story unique, special and elevate above perfection.  If we can truly accept each gift we are given, and carry those gifts with us daily, we will see the TRUE love in our lives … and our dishes will be clean.

So, yeah … my wife got gift cards, manicures, pedicures, massages, theatre tickets and a family vacation … but she also got soap!

A post to accompany this one is, “A better father with improvisation” or “Say Yes to your Wife.”



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