Posts Tagged "gifts"

THE GIFT…..THE GIVER…..THE GIVING…..part 3

Gifts from our children are always among the most special.  So cute when they are small…it’s always fun to see what their little minds will come up with.  As they become older, their gifts become different.  It’s obvious when they begin to really think about their gifts and the likes or dislikes of the one who they are giving to.    That is an important skill to have, I think.  It is so easy to go into a store and get a gift…any gift…whatever is closest to the cash register…and if it is already wrapped, that makes it all the better.  But, to spend the time to really think about what the recipient would like, or to really think about what message you want to send by the giving of the gift, is a skill that is sometimes hard to learn.  Can’t you tell when the giver has really put thought into choosing your gift?  And, isn’t it obvious when they haven’t?  I’m not talking just about children and family here, but friends, as well.

Several years ago, Alex gave me this piece from the Willow Tree Collection.  He said the sweetest words to me.  He said,  “You  hold my heart, everyday.  I could not make it without you.”   Well of course, that melted my heart.  He and I are very close, and we are together every day.  I am his legs, when he needs something.  I am his sounding board, and I am his friend.  And, I am blessed to be whatever he needs.

Ian has given me gifts through the years, but I’ll tell you about 2 of them.  He was fortunate enough to take an extended trip to Europe several years ago and to Ireland and somewhere else across the ocean the next year.  While he was in ‘somewhere’, he discovered the wonderfulness which is Burberry.  He started sporting a very nice Burberry wool scarf in their signature plaid.  What can I say?  I like the good stuff, too.  It just looks and feels better.

On Christmas morning, we began opening gifts.  First he handed me a small, flat package.  I opened it and saw the box said Burberry.  I thought he had just reused the box that his scarf came in.  I opened it up and there was a Burberry wallet!  Needless to say, I was shocked.  I can’t believe he used his money to buy that for me.  But, he did, and I love it.  I use it everyday.

  There was another gift from him that day.  And, as much as I loved the wallet…this is the one that brought tears to my eyes.  He had chosen another of the Willow Tree figures.  This one:

He said that this reminded him of the way I had always covered him with love and care.  My, my…my heart is melted!

And recently, he did it again.  He went looking for a sign, and when they didn’t have it…he had them to make it!    I love words and things that say words of encouragement or affirm our faith.  So, this was a wonderful gift.  Here it is in place!

Now that oldest son of mine and his sweet wife have been very kind in their gift giving.  Suzanne has a talent for always choosing perfect gifts.  She puts a lot of thought into each one. I love beautiful pottery and she has given me some that is fabulous!   But, this one was Adam’s doings.  For a while he was seeing a doctor in Montgomery and was not able to drive.  So, I took him up for his appointments.   Now I have been travelling back and forth to Birmingham since I was in college.  And, to get there from here, you have to go through Montgomery.  A few miles before you get to Montgomery, there is a cluster of old buildings.  They have been there ever since I first began travelling this road.  My favorite of the buildings is the smallest.  It had the most unusual shape to it.  I used to wonder what it was used for.  It was really too small to live in, but not big enough to be a meeting place for very many people.  We stopped one day and Adam climbed over the fence and made lots of snapshots of the house.  I was the look out, in case the police came to arrest us for trespassing.  Which we were…at least that’s what the sign on the fence said!    I don’t usually condone a  flagrant disregard of the law….but this was just too enticing!  I mean, the architecture of this building was so interesting to me that I just NEEDED a better look! [ And, hey, this is the South!  I’m pretty sure that if I tracked down the owner and told them what I wanted to do, they would have said,  “Well, Shug, you just go right on in and make all the pictures you want.  Stay long as you want.  And, if the Sheriff comes by in his police car, lights flashing, and siren blowing…just tell him Billy Bob said it was just fine!” ]   Adam was happy to be my partner in crime.   Actually, I think  the whole thing  was his idea, really.  Yes, I’m pretty sure it was.  🙂   I could see the headlines in the local paper….

 **********LOCAL MOTHER AND SON ARRESTED BREAKING INTO  PADLOCKED GATE ON RARE OLD SOUTHERN BUILDINGS.  THEY SAY THERE’S A PERFECTLY GOOD EXPLANATION……(BUT DON’T THEY ALL)  STAY TUNED FOR A LIVE INTERVIEW FROM THE  SOUTH MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL…BUT REALLY WE ALL HAVE COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION…THE MOTHER WAS THE RING LEADER OF THIS GANG, AND IT WAS SHE WHO LED HER UNSUSPECTING SON DOWN THE PATHS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS!  FILM AT 6:00! *************

 But, at Christmas, he surprised me with a large print.  He had it printed on a metallic paper, and had framed it beautifully!  It is a treasure.   {This pic does not do it justice}

A closer view…..

 Before Adam and Suze gave me the large print, I had taken one of the snapshots  that showed the unusual shape and framed it and placed it in the library.  When the people came to hang the drapes in the house, one of the men asked me where the picture was taken.  I told him and lo and behold!  he had some information about the place.  He said back in the woods behind this place, there was a small settlement of people.  They all worked for the same man as farm hands.  The farmer paid them well and looked after their well being.  This little place was a church. 

He built it big enough to hold all the adults that worked for him.  I suppose he was not interested in church growth.  Anyway, it is very good to know what it was used for.  It is my dream to have that exact little building sitting in my backyard!  Since I probably will never see that…looking at the picture lets me dream about it anyway.

 

And, one of the best gifts of all time…for me, at least.  When my Pop took off to Africa, to work with some missionaries for a while, I asked him to bring me a zebra skin.  Well, he took my request seriously.  Several months after he returned this and several other skins arrived.  Turns out that the herd of zebra where he was, needed to be thinned out.  Because of famine, there was not enough food to keep all the animals alive.  So, the government sanctioned the shooting of several of the older zebra and some of the sick ones.  Pop was very fortunate to get in on this.  And, fortunate that he was able to get the hide shipped out of the country.  They did not allow the skins to leave the country anymore.

When this came, I was so excited to see it!  But, it is big!  Mom did not want it to be displayed at her house.  When I first married, we lived in a small apartment in Birmingham…..no room there.  Then when we moved back to Dothan, our first house was tiny…really tiny……no room there.  Then we bought the house we lived in for over 30 years.  There was no space to put it out there.  Well, it could have gone on the floor in the den, there, but there were 4 wild things that lived in the house with Don and I.  3 human males and 1 canine male.  Wild, I tell you…that zebra  would have been drug round the house and yard before I could turn around good.  I was able to share it quite a bit through the years.  I would take it to schools and churches to show it.  But for the most part of 40 some odd years, it stayed rolled up in a garbage bag in a closet.

But, I always said, that one day I would have a place to display it.  I wanted a library with the zebra skin on the floor.  I wanted that skin to be seen and appreciated.  And, no one else in my family, immediate or extended, cared one little whit about this beautiful skin.  So it was now or never.    That was one of the things on my ‘HAVE TO HAVE’  list when we began planning The Creek House.  So, there it is…on the floor in my library!  And, I love it!  Isn’t it amazing how beautiful and artistic the black marking are?  Did you know that the stripes go right through the mane?  So, thanks for the skin, Pop!  It’s finally found a place to rest!

I must add this one.  It may not meet all the other requirements…but it for sure was the funniest!  Here you see me opening a gift from Joy. 

 It is a lap desk, which I really loved because I had a new laptop.  If you look closely at the picture, can you tell that Joy is looking for something?  Well, she was……she was looking for the gift I had given her just a few minutes before.  She loved it.  Because she had a new laptop!  Yes, we gave each other the very same gift!!!

AND…when we returned from Maui last year, she had been a little sneak!  When I opened my luggage…tight on top was a wrapped package to ME!  I hurriedly opened it and this is what I found.  Joy had bought this beautiful sun catcher of the Bird of Paradise flower, which grows wild, I might add.  It was just a little surprise to always remind me of the wonderful time we had on our Maui Adventure.  I hung it in the window right next to the day bed in the studio…and there it hangs still.  Such a sweet reminder!

Oh, I could go on and on…but, this could get old for my readers.  Let me just say that I am so blessed to have wonderful friends and family who care enough to search for gifts that are different and unusual and suited to my aesthetic.  And, I try to do the same!  But, as wonderful as all these things are…that is just what they are…things!  Not worth much in the grand scheme of things.  And, I mean the REALLY grand scheme of things!  Not a single one of these will go with me when I move on to Heaven…and when I get there, I won’t be wishing I had any of it with me.    So, it’s all just ‘icing’….that yummy little extra on the top!   Fun to have and use…but no lasting value.  Fun for me to search and plan and purchase for others in my life…but, if I have  not told them about the GREATEST GIFT…then the other things are as dirt.

We read in the Bible that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above…”  James 1:17.  Now if this is so, all these wonderful things that are such treasure to me are all gifts from God.  Have you ever thought about gifts that way?  It is God who allows us to have pretty things.  It is He who allows us to have gifts that make our life easier.  It is He who allows us to receive such pleasure from the little treasures we obtain along the way.  I don’t think He minds this at all.  He gave us the capacity to appreciate and enjoy the things that the world offers.  But, I DO think He expects us to give to Him first.    And, He expects us to love Him above all other people and things.   Because when you get right down to it…..the best gifts do not come wrapped in tissue and placed in a beautiful gift bag with ribbon tied to the handle!

THE GIFT…THE GIVER…THE GIVING…part 1

When I think back through my childhood, I can’t recall many gifts that I received.  I know we always had lots of things to open on Christmas.  But, I can not recall any of them.  Except the year I got a bicycle.  And, I heard them bringing it in the house after I should have been asleep.  This had to be about 4th grade.  I spent all Christmas Day learning to ride it.  I don’t remember any birthday presents either.  But, I do remember birthday parties.  Just none of the gifts made an impression on me…except for one.

There were several families, especially the J’s and the J’s who had children around our ages, who lived in our neighborhood.  Things were so different then.  We could have races down the street with the hill…over and over and over and never worry about cars.  And, there was the flat street further over.  There were also some other children who lived around the area who played with us too, but we were closest with the J’s and the J’s.    On this particular day, all the kids were over 2 streets from our house.   Joy and I could not go 2 streets over unless Mom or some adult that she deemed responsible was with us.   Lydia and Angela and another girl all had skates, and they were skating on the flat street. Now, Joy would push the envelope ALLLLLL the time, but me…being the older and wiser sister…would always try to pull her back onto the straight and narrow.   She said we could sneak over there and see them skate and get back home while Mama was ironing.  No, too risky.  Paths of unrighteousness, I tell you.  We (I) asked Mom and she said she would walk over there with us.   Mrs. L and Mrs. J were already there.  These were the mother of Lydia and Angela…who had the coveted skates.

Now, I’m not sure why we wanted to go over there since we had no skates.  Probably Joy’s idea.  But there we were.  So they were having the time of their lives skating one way and then the next.  Skating up and down.  Skating alone and holding hands.  And, laughing all the time.  And, there Joy and I sat, on the curb, head in hands and elbows on knees.  Friends, I was sinning.  I know I was.  Cause I was coveting.  I wanted those skate so bad.  And, Lydia and Angela had the nerve to wave every time they whizzed by on those silver wheels.  I wanted THEIR skates.  I wanted them to jump off their feet and land on mine.  So that was probably another sin right there.  Yes, Mam.  I wanted the skates to be mine and for them not to have any!  It just wasn’t fair!

Oh, I could just picture myself.  I’d run home and change into my tights and short flippy skirt…and the cute stretchy headband I had just gotten.  Then I would sit down…very ladylike…with legs leaning to one side .  Not one leg over here and another over there for the whole world to see your panties and give your mother a heart attack because you would forever be a girl of loose morals and it all started that day in the 3rd grade!  OK, then!  I would slide that bar tight to the sides of my black and white oxfords and then lock it into place with my key.  My skate key!  Oh, that wonderful key!  The key that so many of the girls wore around their neck.  Even to school or when riding bikes.  That heavy grey metal key hung round their neck,  shouting, “See me! I’m a key! A wonderful, beautiful skate key!  This darling girl who has it around her neck owns my skates.   And, you don’t have any!  But, she does and she is the coolest girl ever.”  At least that’s what it sounded like to me.  They just looked dumb.  And, I……I wanted to look just like that!  Add sin #3..wishing a friend to be unhappy so I could be happy.  Surely the Lord covered that in the 1o Rules for Adults and Children.  I would have used a pretty cord, too, instead of that ball chain!

Well, finally Mrs L  called Lydia over and told her that she needed to share her skates and let me have a turn.  Well, of course she should!   But, that was not exactly what Lydia had in mind for this warm spring afternoon.  No, taking off her skates so I could use them while she sat and watched was not a fun thought.  For her.  But, it was like the angels singing The Hallelujah Chorus to me,  I jumped up and forgot all about the tights and flippy skirt.  I just wanted to glide  down the street…wind whipping my hair…key around my neck.  Well it took two more warnings and the threat of Mrs L  taking those skates and throwing them in the dumpster with the dirty and the rats and roaches.  Lydia slammed her little fanny down on the side walk curb and jerked those skates off her feet.  Her arms were folded across her chest and little puffs of smoke were coming out of her ears.  So, I carefully picked up them up and sat down and tried to fit the skate onto my shoe.  But, alas, I needed the key.    (YEAH!!!)   I sure didn’t want to ask for it.  But, I forced myself.  I said in my best friend voice, ” Lydia, can I use the key, please?”  And, y’all, she took it off and chunked it in my direction.  Her mother happened to be between she and I, and the key came down…oh it did!..it came down right on her Mama’s head!  And y’all again, if looks could punish, she would still be ‘wearing her out’ while she danced around and cried bloody murder.  Mrs. L remembered then that she was a Christian setting an example for the little children, and handed the key to me and said, “Here you go, shug.  Now you take a ride on those skates.”  And, she looked over at Lydia and bored 2 holes right through her head with just her eyes!

Somehow the fun was fast slipping away.  I didn’t even want to try them out now.  I looked over at Mama and she told me to try them out once…up the street and down…and then give them back.  So, that’s what I did.  I’m sure I looked divine, but I didn’t even care.  They weren’t my skates, and the Lydia did not want me to wear them.  The fun I thought it would be was gone.  So, I came back to the curb and used the wonderful, magical key to take them off.  I sat them down, side by side, very neatly, and handed the key to Mrs. L.   And, I said “thank you”.  She told me she was sorry Lydia had acted like that.  And, Lydia was just sitting there, arms folded, shooting daggers at anyone and everyone.  Mrs. J called Angela over and told her to let Joy have a turn now, but, it was not to be.  Joy’s feet were just too small.  So, Angela asked me if I wanted a turn, but I said I didn’t.

Then, my Mama did a very strange thing.  She asked Mrs. L if she knew Mr O’s phone number at work.  And, she told her what it was.  Mom asked Mrs. J and Mrs.L if they would watch us for a minute and could she go to Mrs. Lessie’s house and use her phone?  (That was the closest house to where we were).  Mrs. L told her to hurry.  And, off Mom ran on some mission.  Lydia got her skates back and off she went to catch up with Angela.  And, Joy and I sat and watched.  In a little bit, Mom came back.  I thought for sure she would say we had to go.  I was hoping she’d say we had to go.  But, no, she sat down and went back to talking to the other mothers.  And, Joy and I sat and thought wrong thoughts because we did not have any skates and they would not share.  I feel quite certain that I may have said something unkind to Joy for getting us into this mess.    And, the ladies talked and we sat and they talked and we sat.  The Mothers were enjoying their chat, and the girls were enjoying the skating.  And, we were sitting on the curb like a doofus and her sister.  I swore (another sin) that if I ever got home, I would never come back and watch them skate ever again in my whole entire life.

In about 30 minutes or so, we saw Mr. O drive into his driveway, coming home from work.  He worked at Sears.  He got out and went into the house and in a few minutes, he came out where the Mothers were sitting and handed the package to Mom.  He said, “I was able to get your package…the only one left.”  Mother told him thank-you, and that she would send Tonja Lynn (me)  over to their house in a little bit with a check.  Now, maybe we could go home.  Mom called me to come over where she was and said, “I think you will find something in here that you will like.”  And, she gave me the brown Sears bag.  I took it and reached inside.  There was a box inside and I pulled it out.  You know what it was, don’t you?

I remember jumping around like  I’d gotten into a swarm of bees and hugging my Mama again and again. Joy was agast!  Where were hers?  But, she didn’t say anything.  Mom and Pop had taught us from a very early age that we would not always get the same things.  One of us may get something we needed, but it could be the other one next.  It was based on the situation.  And, we also learned it was in our best interest not to question this decision our parents made.  And, besides, it was working pretty well in my favor, at the moment!

 I can see myself sitting on the curb and fitting them to my shoes.  Mr. O  helped.  But, that’s it.  I do not remember skating with them.  Or skating along with my friends.  I don’t remember ever using them at all.   Though I am sure I did!The memory is of the gift.  Oh! they were shiny! And, no scratches on the wheels.  And, there it was….the KEY!  I was a happy girl.  The blue birds of happiness had flown right down and lit on my shoulders.  They held a banner in their beak that said, THIS IS ONE HAPPY GIRL    I’m pretty sure I saw flutter byes flying around, too.

Mom gave me something I dearly wanted.  I didn’t ask for it.  I didn’t say a word about skates.  It was a gift out of the blue.  As excited as I was to get them…I wonder why I don’t remember ever using them?  Maybe the ‘giving’ of the gift was of more importance than the gift itself.  Perhaps the knowing that my Mom wanted me to have something I longed for was of some importance to me.  I remember how it felt when I realized what she had done.  How special I felt!   I feel the same way today some 50 years later.    And, let’s be honest here…I had committed 3 sins while sitting there, and I don’t remember ever repenting.  So, I guess I probably…well…maybe…just a tiny bit did not deserve them.  

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There is much to think upon when you think back on the gifts that have made an impression on you through the years.

Feel free to play along, if you like…..

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