Thanks to Lynnette Sills for her guest blog post on the Advent Conspiracy theme of Give More.
There isn’t a room in our house that doesn’t contain something that someone made and gave to us. In the kitchen, it’s the art work on the refrigerator made by Elizabeth and James. There are handmade scarves with intricate stitches and patterns made by my grandmothers that adorn various tables. There are hand-made quilts, also courtesy of my grandmothers, on every bed. Handmade caps and scarves keep our heads warm in the winter. Embroidered and framed pieces hang on our walls—gifts lovingly made by people who joyfully and thoughtfully gave of themselves in the beautiful things they made and shared.
At Christmas one of the greatest joys is to decorate the tree. Each ornament is taken out of its box, unwrapped and placed carefully on the tree. Many are handmade, while others are store-bought. Some of my favorites are the “First Christmas” ornaments that belong to Elizabeth and James; the crocheted snowflakes and angels my grandmother made; the tiny wooden angel sent by a friend from Germany; the fragile glass ornaments that hung on our tree when I was a child; and the ones the children and I have been making each Christmas for the past few years. Each one has a story. Remembering the stories is where the joy is.
These handmade and treasured things remind us of people who have filled our lives with the gifts of their love and their presence. They remind us of times past, but also of the hope found in our future together as a family. They remind us of who we are, where we came from and, often, the kind of folks we want to be. By that, I mean, we want to be the kind of people who treasure what has been given to us by people who love us. And, we want to be folks who give that kind of love to others.
Perhaps what makes these gifts so wonderful is that they are a reminder of time spent with people I loved and who loved me back. It’s the recollection of memories made with special people: the stories read to my brother and me by our Aunt Salinda, the summer days at the river with Aunt Norma, fishing on a pier at the Outer Banks with Grandma and Grandpa James, and rides through the Smokies and picnics with Granny and Granddad Rimel.
The best gifts I’ve ever received were the gifts made in and given with love, and time spent with the people who shared them. It’s love that makes a gift the shiniest, prettiest, most amazing, most treasured, most special gift ever. God’s love for us is that kind of gift. The love we share with each other is that kind of gift. We celebrate Christmas not because of what is purchased by and for us. Rather, we celebrate because of the love that was shared when a little baby to be named Jesus was born into this world. That sweet child—God’s only Son—given as the most profound and beautiful gift we will ever know. Jesus—the hope, peace, joy, and love we long to know and share with a world that needs it so desperately.