Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wise Men Bring Gifts

This is a lazy Christmas for us-  no outdoor lights, no inflatables (thank goodness), no handmade gifts (except the sweater I made me) and we've been sleeping til ten every morning. 

But, I feel no Martha Stewart- induced guilt about not making everything into a Christmas craft for extra special "memories."  It just didn't feel right.  We were all tired, and that's sad to have a high schooler feel tired from the pace of school.   We are tired of celebrating.  Does that even make sense?   So, instead of trying to make my grandmother's incomparable turkey/dressing spread for dinner, we'll be having a no- brainer lasagna.

I think just knowing I wasn't  going to overdo it this year made me feel "with it" enough to crank out some slice and bake cookies yesterday with my daughter to bring to family friends that are no longer able to leave their homes/ nursing homes.   This is something I have always wanted to do at Christmas but was always too busy with a myriad of mindless activities to actually see it through.  And it's something I do not do enough. 
  

As I walked through the halls of the nursing homes, I saw people, some near my age, who I guessed had no one.  I sat with friends of my parents or grandparents who had done innumerable little things for me since I was a little girl.  One sweet lady had given me a dollar for each year of my age on every birthday when I was a girl.  Then, when my children were born, she'd have little gifts for them on their birthdays waiting for us at my grandmother's house.  She doesn't remember me now, I could tell, but when I mentioned my grandmother's name she smiled and said, "Oh, she's my special friend."  

I saw a friend of my father's who began doing nice little things for us when our family was going through a hard time years ago.  He'd bring over 60's era books the library was phasing out for the kids, just something to let us know we were loved.  Yesterday, he was sick and so changed since I saw him last, that I had a very hard time holding my feelings in.  He coughed and coughed so much that we never did communicate at all, except that I told him I loved him and how much his servant's heart meant to me.  

(Let me say here that I mention none of this to sound like Polly Super - Christian, because I so am not.  This was way below minimal.)

  I know that as the years go by less church friends stop in to see him, the neighbors he brought doughnuts to regularly don't visit much.  And I am one of these: so busy with my "activities" and the mini celebrations I feel obligated to be involved in that I can't take time to do some real good for someone who actually needs it.  And by real good I mean the smallest of gestures- like that "cup of cold water" that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 10:42.  Why must every group my children are a part of have their own Christmas party?  I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, but it just seems like a lot of stuff lavished on kids who are already privileged enough to be part of a group, and, usually, have enough stuff.

Meanwhile, there are people I actually know in my neighborhood who will have very little to give their children tomorrow.  There is a man down the street who has not one living relative to celebrate with.   Had we not stopped by with a few cookies, we'd never have known that.   I fail so much toward the poor and the lonely in my little circle of acquaintances that it is very easy to avoid that uncomfortable knowledge by avoiding them completely.

My kids were a little freaked out by our sick friend and other patrons of the home.  They were quiet the whole way home and unsure of themselves... and basically, feeling the same awkward, inadequate, guilt we all feel.  I told them that our presence would be forgotten, maybe instantly, but the feeling we bring in with us will linger, and that's really all we have to give.   And that's what I have to believe.   I never, ever, want to go back to mindless holiday stress over dippy things like ornament exchanges and carbon copy Christmas cards again.  I want to give real gifts for Christmas to the people I feel led to give to.  That's the kind of gift my God considers given to Him as well.  If nothing more,  I can have a fairly calm and kind presence to give to everyone around me.  Maybe it will be felt even after I'm gone.


 if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward- Matthew 10:42
42For I was hungry, and you gave me no food: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink:
43I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.
44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you hungry, or thirsty or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto you?
45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Since you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.    Matthew 25:42- 45

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