1. something given; a present
I'm not a natural when it comes to giving gifts. It's not that I don't want to please others. It's more that I can barely get my mind to focus for long enough to think about the right gift to give. I just don't care that much about things. But I realized a while ago that my daughters don't necessarily feel the same way. It started with A making gifts for nearly everyone in our family. She did this for a Christmas or two before I realized that this wasn't just a crafting spurt for her, but an expression of her love. I remember saying to her one Christmas as she pestered J to take her to buy me a gift, "Honey, you don't have to give me a gift. I know you love me." This yielded nothing more than a puzzled look and continued insistence on a shopping trip.
This month, A and I have been doing a unit study on Advent symbols. Wednesday she studied gifts and as a part of her lesson read O. Henry's Gift of the Magi. You may not recognize it from the title, but it's a short story about a couple trying to buy the perfect gift - she decides to buy him a chain for his pocket watch and he buys her combs for her hair. In case you haven't read it, I won't say more. (Except to say: click on the link above and read it - it's free via public domain.) After A read the story, I asked her how the story made her feel and whether she wished for a different ending. She was quite adamant that the couple in the story should have given their gifts because of "how giving a gift makes you feel." When I asked her how she feels when giving a gift, she paused, then said, "It makes me feel like I've really shown them that I love them." That's pretty different from giving a gift because it's expected of you, doing it to fulfill a duty or just because it's that time of year.
In the past, I've found it challenging to pick the right gifts to give teachers. I've tried giving Thanksgiving gifts instead of Christmas gifts to make it clear that we are thankful for all they do and to take care of remembering them before the craziness of Christmas sets in. We've made various gifts from cookies to bath salts. This year's offering was fun to make, but took a lot of time. There were several steps involved and the girls enjoyed some of them, but not others, which left me completing the project. Yet I found myself working on small collage elements to go on each gift card after the gifts were wrapped and under the tree. Not because it was necessary, but because I enjoyed it. As I worked on the two dozen tiny cards, I wondered why I was doing this. It wasn't really necessary. But that's the whole point of a gift, isn't it? Not that it's necessary, but that you enjoy giving it.
I'm thankful that this Advent season has brought the unexpected and delightful gift of stillness to my heart. It's this gift that has enabled me to help my daughters create two dozen teacher gifts, wrap them and ready them. And to do so with a joyful heart. I figure regardless of what the teachers think of their presents, that's a gift - not just to them, but to us.