Teri’s Notebook: The gift of giving and receiving
Christmas wasn’t always a joyful time for my cousin Christina Halli.
“Shortly after I got married, I experienced several lost pregnancies,” she shared. “I couldn’t stand the idea of Christmas with family and all the beautiful children I couldn’t have. My husband and I stayed home and had a private solemn Christmas, just the two of us. It was pretty sad and lonely.”
That year, he gifted her a ruby ring and a music box with “The Nutcracker Ballet” dancers painted on it.
“I loved the gifts, though I didn’t know why,” she recalled. “They raised my spirts and gave me hope.”
A few months later, the meaning of those gifts became clear.
“We learned we would become the adoptive parents of our son, Jack, whose was born in Russia in July, whose birthstone is the Ruby,” Christina said. “Now I know the gifts were a divine symbol of hope, and I still cherish them.”
This story reminds me that giving gifts during this season is not just about fulfilling traditions of the holiday, but can be a sacred exchange between two people.
For Heidi Brandow, making mosaic art for people is her way of expressing how she feel.
“I want to give people I love a little piece of my heart,” she said. “Each piece, regardless of size, is like birthing a baby — it’s unique and specially made. At the same time, Im a bit shy about my art so if I gift a piece, it’s truly a gift from my heart and soul.”
Some of us may never know the results of what we give.
“I’d love to see the response of the kid whose dad bought my bike as a surprise Christmas gift,” said Christy Chamberlain. “Or if the ladies who live in neighboring rooms at a local senior place (and wear the same size and wanted them) will compare or trade their sweaters.”
What it really comes down to is treasuring those we love and finding ways to express that love to them, because all of this is fleeting.
Shelly Maebe-Maust lost her oldest sister on Christmas Eve and her father-in-law on Christmas day. This year, she also mourns the loss of her father and her husband of 30 years.
“I do know my favorite memory is my husband sitting on the couch just staring at the tree, admiring it and telling me it was beautiful,” she recalls. “He appreciated the time and effort I put into it. He appreciated me. So now his ashes sit on the coffee table facing the tree. I know he’s smiling. Life is about creating memories.
“Remember to create Christmas memories with your loved ones. Eat, drink be merry. Dance, together, sing together, hold each other. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Because one day they may be gone and all you will have left is the memories.”
In these final days before Christmas, I hope we all pause to be grateful for all we have, remember those we’ve lost and, like Christina, find ways to cultivate hope for good things to come.