(I am re-running this post from November 2006 (see the comments about it here) as a submission for a writing contest that Lysa TerKeurst is having on her blog. Go check it out and submit something yourself if you’d like!)
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Gifts to the Future
This evening while wrapping the first gifts of the Christmas season, I once again caught myself thinking very un-Christmasy thoughts. During my first gift-wrapping session each year, with a feeling akin to superstition, I make sure to wrap at least one gift for each person in my family before I quit wrapping. Labelled, with a handwritten little ‘I love you’ message and placed under the tree.
Only when I have wrapped a gift for every single person can I quit, relieved. Now if (heaven forbid) something happened to me before Christmas came, each of my precious ones would have a Christmas gift from me.
This morbid little obsession began the year my husband’s grandmother died. She died in early December, and as we cleaned out her house after the funeral, we discovered sacks of wrapped Christmas gifts, all carefully labeled with family member’s names.
We brought home our gifts and put them under the tree. Over the days that followed, as we ate casseroles from kind friends and opened sympathy cards and watered the death-bouquet on our dining room table, we also stole looks at the mysterious gifts from her.
On Christmas Eve we opened them to discover hand made Christmas stockings for each of our 4 children, and a Christmas tree skirt for John and me. Those were some of the most precious gifts I’d ever gotten. Gifts made for us while she lived, and opened by us after she died.
Since then, wrapping Christmas gifts for my family makes me morbid. It reminds me of my frailty, and of my longing to leave of part of myself with my loved ones. Yes, Grandma was in her 70’s when she died, and I’m only 39. Lord-willing, I’ll run through reams more Christmas wrap before I make my way to Heaven. Heck, I have every intention of wrapping gifts for great-grandkids, just as John’s grandmother did. But you never know. And so I wrap quickly, and sit back in relief when everyone has a gift.
Thinking this evening I realized that the really important gifts from John’s grandmother were not wrapped in red Christmas paper. Her steady love. Her beautiful smile. Her open Bible next to her rocking chair. Her adoration of our children. The words she spoke so often: “You kiddies are doing so well! I’m so proud of you!” Those were her most precious gifts to us.
Those gifts from her make me think of the gifts I hope to pass on to my precious ones. Hope for the future. Warm-heartedness. A tendency to break into song as if life is some wacky musical. Faith in God above all else. I pray that no matter what happens, my children will know that legacy passed on by me.
As much as I am looking forward to Christmas when I can watch my children and my husband opening the gifts I wrapped in paper for them this evening, those gifts are as dust compared to the gifts I cannot wrap — the gifts I am doing my daily best to give my family, a song and a smile and a hug and a prayer at a time.