Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
This one is a little tricky. There were a lot of important gifts this year. Incredible gifts of time and presence. Gifts of Ensure- lots of Ensure, which had has much symbolic value as it did monetary. I received escape valves and safety nets. Clean laundry and warm dinners.
The best gift was given quite unintentionally. A gift of tears. Can't say much more about it than that. Just that my husband is not the kind of guy who was taught that it was okay to cry. Or more properly, he witnessed that men didn't cry and so he followed the pattern laid out for him. This year he discovered for himself that some times, tears are warranted and crying does ultimately make you feel better.
On Christmas Eve, we were at our little church where I work with the Sunday School program. One of the joys of my job is leading the family service on Christmas Eve. The children dressed as the various people in the nativity story. The older children read the story of Jesus’ birth. We sang lots of carols and there was a special Children’s sermon. As we were tidying up, one of the teachers said that one of the “wise men" - a second grader named Aaron- told her, “That was the best church experience I have ever had."
Clearly the kid has a remarkable vocabulary but I also think he has a marvelous capacity for insight. This is the first time that he has really been a part of a congregation. His family has gone to church, but they haven’t really joined. And so I think what happened for Aaron is that he really felt connected on Christmas Eve. He was fully a part of everything that was going on and he experienced something new. He was a part of the church family. And in that belonging, he experienced one of the true joys of Christmas- hearing the good news from people who truly care about us.