Thoughts About Gifts

January 2007

How sweet the memory of a gift.
Sweeter still the memory of the giver.

Having just passed through a season of gift giving, my thoughts still linger on the subject. Whether it is fun and thoughtful gifts given and received among us, or another kind, they are all precious, and they are all blessings.

What fun we all had in the spirit of Christmas with the planning, the secrets, the shopping - the anticipation of seeing someone open the gift you chose especially for him or her. What fun to watch that person open your gift. Remembering why we celebrate Christmas, truly, giving is within the meaning of Christmas and evokes a special blessing.

One of the best parts of receiving gifts is to see the originality of others' ideas, or the interpretation of one through the eyes of others. Also warm and touching is the just plain thoughtfulness of another who cares about one, sees a need, and then fills that need with a gift. That is caring.

The older I have become the more I believe that, the ability, to graciously receive a gift, is a gift of the spirit. Have you ever known someone whom you could not give a gift? I've known a few. Recently, a gift was returned to my husband and me. I am sure it was well intentioned, and surely the person did not know he was denying us the blessing of giving. Those who do not have the gift of graciously receiving, deny the giver the blessing of giving.

I am humbled when I remember that all gifts are from Above. Whether it is the gift of giving, the gift of receiving, or other types of gifts.

Daily, we receive, and take for granted, gifts provided by a caring Creator: that beautiful sunset or sunrise we noticed, a gorgeous view, brilliantly shining snowflakes dancing in sunshine, a bird's song, a peaceful stillness by a lake, the calming effect of the sound of ocean waves, a smile from a stranger, the voice of a loved one, a baby's laughter... For me, the soft touch of a cooling breeze on my skin is like the breath or touch of a caring Presence. For all these gifts handed me, I say "Thank you" repeatedly all day long.

I heard Dr. George Zack, conductor of the Lexington Symphony for several years, talking on Public Radio about "gifted musicians". He named a few and explained their gifts, such as, perfect pitch, for example, and how it was interesting that each artist felt that voice, that gift, was something they had - but it was a separate entity from themselves.

Then he told about an occasion when he was to conduct in Lincoln Center (I think that was where it was - doesn't matter.) Leontyne Price, the fabulous opera singer, was to sing. They went in for a rehearsal; the building was cold, and she told Dr. Zack that she wanted to wait until the building warmed. He said, she said to him, "You see, I've been given this gift, this voice, and I have to take care of it for it isn't mine, someday it will belong to someone else, and until then I have to be very careful of it and not let anything happen to it."

Isn't that beautiful! - another kind of gift. I see people around me everyday with special gifts. I remember our pastor announcing from the pulpit one morning that Mr. and Mrs. - (and he named a couple; I don't remember their name) had invited all the deacons of the church to their home for a special dinner. Due to the size of the group and the size of the space in their home, deacons' wives could not be invited. He said, "This is a couple who have been given the gift of entertaining and hosting, and they want to do this special thing for the deacons of the church." The gift of being a good host or hostess, I had never thought of that before. I know people with that gift.

Shirley Jones, singer (The mom in the television show, "The Partridge Family"), said, "I could always sing." She started singing at age 6 (and began formal training at age 12). During an interview, I heard her say she never worried about working for, and she said this matter-of-factly, "I could always sing."

Would that all youths could recognize THEIR special gift so they would know what direction to take with their lives. Lynn Johnston, creator of the comic strip "For Better or For Worse" said that all her life she could always draw and doodle. She didn't realize that she was any different from everyone else; she thought everyone could do that. She advises young people to notice what is easy for them, for that is probably "their gift".

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all young people had the vision to recognize what is easy for them, what their gift is, and could pursue that and make a living at what they love to do. The first ones who come to my mind are the athletes who are given the gift of a body with athletic ability. They have the gift and the love. I think of professional skaters, dancers, and ball players of different games - the "pros" we call them. And, I think of people I know who are good with people and have the gift of helping others. What a wonderful and important gift that is, opening doors to many fields of service.

So now, we have 2007, a new year, and new resolutions - here's to: opening our eyes and recognizing gifts!

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