Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas of long ago.....sometimes the best gift is the GIVING!

I was looking through some of my photos from my childhood and I came upon this one.  I believe it was the Christmas of 1957 (but my sister Julie would most likely be able to clarify the year for me - it could have been 1957 or 1958.)  I know it was one of those years, because of the house!  We only lived there for three years.  Just look at that tree!  Covered in Tinsel - the real stuff!   And notice that cabinet in the corner behind my sister.  That was our TV!  It had a very small kind of oval screen and we lived in the sticks in South Dakota.  I remember that occasionally we would be able to actually see some programs.  But we had a TV!

It has been interesting to me how much I have been thinking about past Christmas' this year.  I don't know if it is because I am getting older.  But I don't remember a recent holiday  when I have spent so much time thinking about my growing up years and missing my mom very much.  I haven't seen any of my siblings since May of 2015, so that may be playing a part in my nostalgia. I don't have any real memories of this Christmas in this picture - except I remember the rocking chair I am sitting in (actually in Gwen's basement right now!) and I also know the "Tiny Tears" doll I am holding.  Gwen also has that doll in a box in her basement.  But I don't really remember the holiday.  The first Christmas that I have really good memories of was in 1959.  My sister Karen's fiance Roy was at our house before the holiday that year.  And he and my mom decided to "flock" the Christmas Tree.  I remember that they used a tank vacuum cleaner and it was a really big mess!  I remember that most of my mom's ornaments had white "gunk" on them for many years after that.  But that year, we had a flocked Christmas tree.  The first Christmas that I really remember a gift that I received was actually in 1961.

My brother Jerry (who is NOT in the above picture) is twelve years older than me. Christmas - 1961 Jerry gave me two very special gifts (apparently I do not have a picture of that Christmas).  I think part of the reason I remember this so well, is that we did not exchange gifts between us siblings.   I got my first - very own to keep - hard cover book.  It was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss.  I was just a beginning reader, but to actually own a book was amazing to me.  And I loved this book so much!  The second present was a game - Stadium Checkers.  I believe that I finally got rid of that very tattered and much played game when we moved to Chicago when I was 13.  These two gifts were incredibly important to me.  Not long after receiving these gifts, my brother Jerry went in the Army and was stationed in Okinawa.  He was gone for a very long time (I believe it was 3 or even 4 years - I'm not exactly sure) for a young girl.  Having those tangible gifts from him really made a difference to me.  I'm sure that he didn't realize how important these simple things were to me.  And I don't know that I have ever shared this with him.  I believe that my original copy of that book is currently on Gwen's book shelf!  Yes, it was a very memorable moment for me.

And that brings me to the "point" of this blog.  Sometimes we have no idea just how important a gift that we give is to the person who receives it.  Over the years I have given many gifts to friends, coworkers, family and neighbors.  It really doesn't matter if we ever hear a story like mine.  It really is a blessing to be able to give something to someone else.  And that is all that should matter.  Sadly, in our present culture, we often worry about pleasing and even impressing the person receiving our gift.  Thinking about this has given me another challenge.  I have decided to just be thankful that I can give gifts.  I will make every effort to not have any expectations for the results of that gifting.
Mostly, I will take a moment as I wrap these gifts, to pray that they would bless the person that will receive them.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season!  He is the very best gift that anyone could ever receive.  I am so grateful that there is time to stop and consider this amazing story.  We are in the midst of yet another snow storm and "winter weather warning", but a nice hot beverage, a warm cozy house and plenty of time to wrap presents is at hand.  Yes, I think that I can manage to be grateful for the snow today!
Jesus, thank you for bringing this memory to mind today.  Holy Spirit, help us all to shift our focus of our gift giving towards blessing others.  Remind us all to let go of expectations and help us to stir clear of giving gifts with strings attached.  Thank you for the Bible that allows us to read and learn the amazing story of your birth, Jesus.  Amen

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