Gifts from the Heart
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“I’ve always had a daydream of being a great gift giver. I can picture someone opening my gift with tears of joy and a smile showing that the giving, not just the gift, had touched a heart. …I’ve been building a theory.
My theory comes from thinking about many gifts and many holidays. But one day and one gift can illustrate it. It was a summer day. My mother died in the early afternoon. My father, my brother, and I had gone from the hospital to our family home, just the three of us. Friends and family came to the house, and went. In a lull, we fixed ourselves a snack.
Dad answered the door bell. It was Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bill. When they’d walked just a few feet past the vestibule, Uncle Bill extended his hand and I could see that he was holding a bottle of cherries. I can still see the deep red, almost purple, cherries and the shining gold cap on the mason jar. He said, “You might enjoy these. You probably haven’t had dessert.”
We hadn’t. The three of us sat around the kitchen table and put some cherries in bowls and ate them as Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine cleared some dishes. … And then Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bill were gone. They could not have been with us more than 20 minutes.
Now, you can understand my theory best if you focus on one gift: the bottle of cherries. As nearly as I can tell, the giving and receiving of a great gift always has three parts. Here they are, illustrated by that gift on a summer evening.
First, I knew that Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine …must have felt we’d be too tired to fix much food. Just knowing that someone had understood meant far more than the cherries themselves. I can’t remember the taste of the cherries, but I remember that someone knew my heart and cared.
Second, I felt the gift was free. I knew Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine had chosen freely to bring a gift. And I knew they weren’t doing it to compel a response from me. The gift seemed to provide them joy in the giving.
And third, there was sacrifice. I knew that from the cherries being home bottled. That meant Aunt Catherine had made them for her family. They must have liked cherries. But she took that possible pleasure for them and gave it to me. There was sacrifice, but it was made for a greater return to them—my happiness.
Well, there is a simple theory. When you’re on the receiving end, you will discover three things in the great gift giver: he felt what you felt and was touched; he gave freely; and he counted sacrifice a bargain.”
How simple and elementary. When we give gifts we go all out trying to have a great find, and make the receiver full of joy. In reality, any gift that comes from the heart will have a great impact.
As always we welcome your comments.
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