Unwrapped Gifts

I’ve had a weird “blog writers block” going on. There’s so much to write about, I don’t know where to begin. It’s kind of like the state of the laundry in my house. Where do I start? I guess the answer is, somewhere, anywhere.

Snow is back. Once again we’re slipping and sliding on the roads, scraping windshields, and finding that our van has slid down the driveway and is blocking the street. Winter. Yet, it’s also breathtakingly beautiful. There’s a quiet stillness at night that is so nice. I took some photos of my kids, all dressed up to play in the snow. My sons built an ice slide and used a cardboard box to surf down it. There are icicles on my back window.

The children are MORE than ready for Christmas, but I am not. This is a wonderful holiday but a huge undertaking for a mom of seven. So many gifts to wrap. So many cards to send. So many cookies to bake. I ordered quite a few gifts on Ebay several weeks ago that still haven’t arrived. A little scary, but I’m hanging on to hope.

One of my favorite occasions is the wee hours of Christmas morning. I like it before the chaos, when it’s still and quiet, the tree is blinking in the semi-darkness, and presents circle the tree and pile up into the living room. There’s the excitement of knowing the children will be waking soon. Anticipation. Glee. The opening of presents is so fun, but in my life I’ve learned that some gifts are not wrapped in holiday paper and tied up with a ribbon. Here are a few of my favorite unwrapped gifts I’ve received recently:

1. The gift of a dance. A teenager girl I hardly know gave me a wondrous gift. She took my son Kyle, who is autistic, to a dance. She wore a fancy flowing dress and did her hair beautifully. She held his hand and danced with him. I took a few pictures, and I cried. I remember when he was a toddler, lining up cars on the carpet. He had just been diagnosed with autism, and I grieved for all the things I thought he’d miss. “He’ll never go to a dance,” was one of my fears. So I’m sure she doesn’t know this, but that cute little blonde girl—cute enough to have the football jocks drooling over her—gave me and Kyle a present we’ll both never forget.

2. The gift of support. My oldest son was given a sniff of amyl-nitrate as a practical joke while at work. It made him feel a rush, then diziness. For ten minutes afterwards he had the strange sensation he was floating. When he told the truth about what happened, the entire work crew turned on him, calling him a tattletale and a “retard.” Only one friend offered support, and after they talked I could see the burden lift from my boy’s shoulders.

3. The gift of compassion. When my two stepdaughters lost their mother, baby sister, and unborn brother in a dreadful car crash, people came offering hugs, teddy bears, meals, and tears. The girls felt that there were people in the world who really cared about them, and that somehow, despite their pain, everything would be alright.

Notice how these gifts were for my children, and yet I consider them mine, too. It’s like that passage from the Bible, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these… ye have done it unto me.” I know what that means.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only [true] gift is a portion of thyself."

I had my children draw each other’s names from a hat and instructed them to secretly do a nice thing each day for the person they chose. It’s been fun watching the paper snowflakes magically appear on someone’s ceiling, or the beds being made when nobody's looking.

Unwrapped gifts. They’re the best ones of all.



John and Jodi said…
I just have to tell you how amazing I think you are. I have looked up to you since the day I met you. I am so glad that I get the honor of calling you my sister in law.
Pasifik said…
Nice posting...one thing is missing though...kids pictures...I guess...

Happy blogging,

Toddler Gifts

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