Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Gift

I’m thankful everyday, for the gift.

Ever since this week’s blog theme was thrown down, I can’t get Jim Brickman’s “The Gift” out of my head. Nothing against anyone who loves the tune … it’s a lovely song, but it’s just too sappy for my taste. Make it staaahhhp!!!

Says the girl who likes Hallmark movies.

I’m listening to a variety of other music to cleanse the palate as I write. TFK might remain on repeat. Yes.

Part of me enjoys the creativity and challenge of coming up with great Christmas gift ideas for friends and family. I am not one of those people who start in January, finish in June, and have everything wrapped by September. Those of you posting fabu pics of your decorated tree surrounded by wrapped gifts the day after Thanksgiving (or earlier!) … I’m having a hard time being happy for you. I realize reality is you’re probably as frazzled as anyone else throughout the holiday season, but social media perfection sometimes brings a kneejerk emotional response.

I usually have the bulk of my shopping done by a week or so before Christmas, but there always seems to be a straggler or two or five.

The other day we had our annual Posse Christmas gathering. What’s a posse? In our case it’s a small group of high school friends who make an effort to get together regularly and for special occasions. And we give each other a lot of grace in the midst of our busy lives because we all need a lot of it. Some years we don’t even manage to get all of us together during the holidays. And that’s okay.

This year thanks to some kind of crazy gremlin interference going on in telecommunications cyberspace, we didn’t confirm details of the gathering until somewhere in the two to fourteen hours prior range. Ha! We had a lovely potluck lunch consisting of things we already had in our kitchens.

The agreement for a while has been no gifts. Exceptions are made for small children and homemade items like jam. I usually get my “niece and nephew” something small, preferably books. I didn’t have my act together this time, though! My creativity was stalled. Ack! Well, if it stayed stalled … kid gifts are optional … and the kids are young enough right now they won’t remember or be expecting anything.

And then late the night before … heaven shone down and I experienced an epiphany. I could write a book! I realize this is not a solution that occurs to everyone. Especially when there are about twelve hours, including sleep time, to pull it off. Fearlessness or insanity? You make the call. 

I’m going to write a book for toddlers! Yes!

I busted out a series of Christmas-themed haiku before I went to sleep. Because five … seven … five … yes I can. In the morning I worked on formatting and assembly. After fighting column formatting on nonstandard size paper for a while, I punted and went with the cut and paste method. The results were lovely … I’ve included pics of the entire book at the end of this post. I intentionally left room for toddlers to illustrate and/or add stickers themselves if they're in a creative mood.

The last gift I have to get … whose recipient shall remain nameless in order to preserve the element of surprise … I just didn’t have many ideas. Often in our family there are one or two people informally in charge of coordinating gifts for any particular person. A spouse, a parent, a grown child. If you’re out of ideas, you ask that person if they have something in their stash, expect to have something in their stash, or have any cool ideas they haven’t pursued. I got around to realizing there might not be anything in the stash yesterday, three days before Christmas.

Between a couple conversations and wandering a couple stores, I came up with what we all thought was a great idea. Another family member was near the right store to pick up said item … so they did … which saved me a trip. Hoorah. I’m done shopping!

Um yeah. Not so fast.

During a phone conversation with yet another family member that night, I discovered the intended gift recipient already has one of those! “Yeah, I borrowed it from them, which is why you thought they didn’t have one.”

Ok then.

Gift card? I’d rather not if I can help it.

Other ideas???

Further group brainstorming resulted in further ideas. I found a solid option online and placed it on hold at a local store. Venturing to a major shopping area on Christmas Eve Eve. Heeeehhhhh. Festivus shopping is one step shy of Christmas Eve shopping in terms of potential insanity.

Just a little blip in the journey.

But all went well. Other than a little traffic it was smooth sailing. Even the parking situation! We took care of the gift transaction and grabbed an early family dinner at a restaurant I hadn’t tried before. And have I mentioned the mild weather? I’m wearing flip flops on December 23 in Ohio.

Winter solstice walk yields the gift of beautiful scenery.

Holiday gift giving can start to get hectic, with making sure no one is left out and trying to be thoughtful about each gift. It’s the right thing to do, though.

My favorite gifts as of late have been intangible. Time. Prayers. Experiences. Pictures in the sky. Gifts from God that I might not recognize as such in different circumstances. I have written before that I seem to be in this weird waiting period. Maybe we’re always in a weird waiting period on this earth. Maybe we’re supposed to be.

Maybe even the waiting and the tension and the occasional overwhelmedness are gifts.

Everything is going to be okay, but things are never quite fully one hundred percent okay this side of heaven.

And that’s all okay.

For more on the subject of “Gift” from my writing partners, see Sue Bowles at and Leisa Herren at

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