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December 18, 2004

A Gift of Love...

As I prepare for Christmas and watch people scurrying around the malls shopping for gifts, I am reminded of a Christmas many years ago when I was 11 years old. At that time, and throughout my childhood, I had to save the money for Christmas gifts from my allowance, the tooth fairy, and those dollar bills relatives slip into birthday cards. This usually meant I had a total of $25.00 to buy gifts for my parents, my two sisters, my teacher, and usually one friend. Even though this was fifty years ago when prices were much lower than today, I still had to shop very carefully in order to spread my money out over six gifts.

That particular year, I did not get around to wrapping my gifts until the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Suddenly, I discovered, to my horror that I had no present for my father. When I looked into my wallet to see if I had any money with which I could buy him something, I had the grand total of thirty cents. What in the world could I buy for thirty-cents? How could I forget my dad?

We lived across the street from a drug store, so I grabbed my coat and ran over there to see what I could find. Borrowing from my mother was out of the question. My sisters and I knew in no uncertain terms that it was our responsibility to live within our means – in other words our allowances. And besides, my pride would not let me admit my mistake.

At the drug store, I scoured the shelves for several hours – finding nothing but candy bars that fell within my $0.30 budget. I knew I didn’t want to give him candy and I didn’t want just anything – I wanted a gift that would have at least some meaning. So I just kept searching. Then I found it – two plastic cups – one bright red and one bright blue – fifteen cents each. Hooray. The perfect storage place for the coins my father took out of his pockets every night.

Christmas morning, as he opened my gift, I was jumping with joy when I saw his face light up. He told me how thrilled he was and thanked me profusely for these very useful cups. In my excitement, I explained that I thought they could go on the bookshelf in his bedroom to hold his loose change. He agreed, and before dinner, the cups were in place.

A couple of years ago, my father passed away at the age of 83 and my mother had to move to an assisted living center, where she died shortly afterwards. I flew to Georgia to begin the task of cleaning out their house. When I started on their bedroom, I stopped suddenly, looking in amazement at the bookcase. There, sitting on the second shelf, were the two cups, still serving their purpose and holding my father’s last pocketful of nickels, dimes, and quarters.

I do not remember any of the other gifts I gave my father over the years and he probably didn’t either. But there is no doubt that those cups held more meaning to him than any expensive tie, book, or golf ball I could have given him. He knew they were picked out with great care and given with all the love I had.

As we receive our gifts this Christmas, I hope we all remember that it is not the monetary value of the gift that matters. It is the love and care with which it was picked out, wrapped, and given. I hope we take the time to look at the love that is inside the gifts we receive and not get caught up in thinking that because a gift is not expensive, nor from the finest store, nor the latest fad, that it is not valuable. I urge all of us to see the love and cherish the giver as we remember the true purpose of gifts.

LYNNE IS THE AUTHOR OF THE MOTIVATIONAL BOOK, “I’ll Be Here Tomorrow – Transforming Tragedy into Triumph”… A book about finding your authentic self and saying YES to life. The reader rediscovers their inner strength with which, through day-to-day struggles, they have lost touch. It will inspire your soul, tickle your funny bone, and stimulate your mind. To learn more about the book, please select the button on the upper left of this page entitled LYNNE's BOOK. To subscribe to the newsletter, e-mail Lynne and simply put SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

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