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!

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6 Comments

  1. All of those gifts are special for many many reasons….that only YOU could know. But that framed print of that little *church* is by far my favorite. Oh my word. LOVE it! What sweet memories.

  2. Tonja,
    I just LOVED this post! You just have the best way of telling a tale or an episode or just a little collection of stories that link together—and that is a true GIFT, as well.

    I think that little building probably didn't have a Preacher, but someone brought the message, and I'd like to imagine that though it wouldn't hold a piano, SOMEBODY would play their "harp" and the voices would ring out, pure and vivid and true, making their Joyful Noise.

    Thank you for all the sharing of your beautiful family and of your life.

    rachel

  3. What beautiful gifts, Tonja … Each and every one of them is, indeed, a treasure because every time you look at them, they remind you of the love and thoughtfulness that went into finding them and giving them to you. Thank you for sharing all of these sweet gifts and their stories with us.

  4. What beautiful treasures you have received. I love when a gift is given that has been chosen so perfectly with you in mind. I have a nice collection of Willow Tree but I have purchased them all myself. The framed picture was a wonderful gift. What a sweet little church. I gave my father a framed picture of the pier from the cottage he use to own. I took the picture when I went to Chicago in October. He loved it. I like that you and Joy gave each other the same gift! Beautiful post, thank you for sharing.

  5. Now wouldn’t that be something if the men in your life would find a way to have that little church moved to your back yard? That would truly be “the little church in the wildwood.”

    Such an awesome post, Tonja. I feel all warm and fuzzy after reading it.

  6. Great post Tonja…again. Great gifts, but the true gifts are the people in your life who love you so much.

    Hugs,
    Kat

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