The holidays seem to bring out the best and the worst in people. Personally, I have experienced the absolute joy of how it feels to give a gift to someone that had very deep meaning. Earlier this year I made a wedding gift for a soldier who I supported a few years back, and his lovely bride. Hopefully I will never forget the amazing way that gift made them feel in receiving it, or in me giving it. Every stitch of that blanket was made with prayers for their marriage to sustain the tests of time and for the safety of our brave heroes who continue to serve our Nation all over the world. Few gifts can probably ever mean as much to me as that one. One would probably ask, who it meant more to … the giver, or the receivers?
That question should be asked of all gifts given this holiday season. There have been times when I was less mature and more selfish, and I didn’t really appreciate what someone had given me. When I began adopting service members years ago, I stopped exchanging traditional gifts with most people, and began making my closest friends and family a calendar from my travels. To me, it is the best gift I can give, because they can see where I have been and it always evokes stories they would otherwise probably not know to ask. The gift means something to them (well, I hope it does anyway .. haha). If nothing else, they have great pictures to look at all year long and a calendar to boot. (hehe) …. and on those rare occasions when I do give someone a gift, it truly is one I believe they will value and appreciate. Something so simple as a “Proud Coin” can make all the difference in the world, from what I am told.
There are other times, where we have to look deeper inside to see the reason why someone gives the gift they do. Maybe they have little money, so they make something they think you will like. Maybe it looks dorky and you don’t see any purpose in it, but ask yourself if it could have a bigger meaning to the person who gave it to you. Could it be possible it was in hopes it would make you happy inside, even if that wasn’t your reaction?
Sometimes we spend money on gifts, when we are not looking at the whole picture. This reminds me of my second visit to South Africa. The year before I had been taken to Soweto and met a bunch of children who were seeking donations for uniforms so they could attend school. (at the time I thought it a bit odd that one of the poorest places on earth would require children to have enough money to purchase uniforms, let alone charge for them to go to school). For a few months I saved money and sent it to the school in a box full of clothes, toiletries, paper, and crayons so hopefully one child would be able to have that uniform.
When I went back the following year, that little boy was so excited to thank me. He said “Miss Robin, it was so very nice of you to send money for this uniform so I could go to school. It means so much to me to be able to study so I can make a better life for my family. I hate to ask this, but is there any way you could buy me a pair of shoes, so I won’t have to walk on cut glass in order to get to school?” Those words have stuck with me for various reasons … one simply is because at the time, I never about the shoes before that moment in time.
There will be gifts we receive in life that we simply do not want or need. Accept them with gratitude, because sometimes it’s not about us. Sometimes it is about the person giving the gift. In reality, maybe my blanket doesn’t mean as much to Ed and Krista as it did to me to make it for them. Maybe it means more to them. But gifts are given as a token of our love and admiration for the receiver. If you have lost perspective on the reason you are purchasing that gift, or why you are receiving the one you have gotten, maybe you should opt not to exchange gifts at all.
And if you receive a gift you simply do not want or cannot use, do me a favor? Send it to me. I promise I will put it into the hands of someone who will appreciate it more than words can begin to express. Whether it be to a service member serving on battlegrounds on the other side of the world, an orphan at a school in Johannesburg, or a family who will not have Christmas this year because their parents lost their jobs this past year and don’t even know where their next meal is coming from.
May you experience the Reason for the Season through the gift of salvation this Christmas, for in that I found a reason for living my life with purpose. Through my faith, I found forgiveness, and that I was and am accepted exactly as I am. Having those gifts and being able to share them with you, is the best present I will ever be able to share … the gift of accepting people where they are, and being an example I hope you would want to follow.
As I bring this blog post to an end, I truly wish you and yours the most precious of holiday seasons and hope you have the joy of knowing you are a gift to every person you meet. Set aside your differences and make things right with those you care about the most … life is short, do it while you can. Look deeply inside yourself for PERSPECTIVE before you judge someone elses actions, and most of all .. I wish for you to experience the pure joy in giving AND receiving, gifts that deeply touch you … like an afghan that took months to make, or my lesson from a school kid thousands of miles away, about shoes.
As a final note, please take a moment to light a candle, and say a prayer, send up positive thoughts and good juju to our valiant heroes serving so far away from home this holiday season and throughout the year.
Ho Ho Ho,
The Sky Angel
Please send all unwanted gifts (especially shoes! hehehe) to:
PO Box 122037
Covington, KY 41012-2037