The Best Kinds of Gifts
Sons: Part 1
A friend was releasing a new book and we were invited to the party to celebrate. We don’t get invited to many parties. Actually, we don’t get invited to much at all.
With six kids we live in a tension between the demands and needs of eight different people. Much of the time what we want to do for ourselves gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Our kids are filled with need, and we have the privilege of being the ones to meet them.
We rarely get to celebrate anything besides pooping in the potty. Or reaching a new milestone at physical therapy. Or completing the next level on Halo. The opportunity to celebrate a friend’s book sounded exciting.
So we said yes.
We found an overnight baby-sitter. Booked a hotel room. And let our excitement grow.
But at the last minute, we realized we had forgotten one small issue. The older boys had basketball practice that night. And there was no one to take them.
The Typical Gift
We all give gifts.
We give gifts at Christmas. Gifts at birthday parties. Gifts on mother’s day and father’s day. Gifts on anniversaries. Gifts at graduations.
Typically our gifts are a result of obligation. An appointment on a calendar. A fear of offending someone. We give the gift not necessarily because we want to, but because it is expected.
And we hate buying these kinds of gifts.
We wait until the last minute, dreading the act of picking something out. We wander through the store clueless as to what to purchase. Wondering what the person actually likes.
What size do they wear? Do they play with that kind of toy? Do they listen to that kind of music? Would they like that type of book? Do they even read books?
And our lack of understanding of the person or what they need or love, make the gift buying impossible. So we wander back to the front of the store and purchase a gift card. We give them a form of money that makes it feel like we aren’t giving them money.
And when it comes time for them to buy us a gift they do the same. We receive a gift card back.
The gifts become an exchange. Mutual back scratching. A box checked off for another year.
Sons: Part 2
My sons are only learning how to play basketball. This summer was their first time on a team. From one perspective it wouldn’t matter if they missed. Would one practice really diminish their chance at the NBA?
But they love it. And while to us practice seemed insignifianct, it was important to them.
We called a friend and asked for help. He said yes. Without hesitation.
While we were away, he picked up both of our kids, Took them to practice. Waited until they were done, and brought them back home. He gave up two hours of his life. Maybe more.
Our friend made it possible for my wife and me to have a fun night out. To relax. To enjoy each other. To laugh and smile. To spend time with friends.
What is a Gift?
A gift is something you give to someone else. Technically the items we hand over to each other at Christmas and at birthday parties are gifts. But typically they aren’t the best kind of gift.
When we receive these gifts, they don’t make us think of the other person, we think of ourselves. Do I like it or do I hate it? What will I spend the gift card on? How soon can I take it back?
We put on a fake smile and say thanks. And move on.
A true gift, the kind that is actually worth giving, is much more. It is the kind of thing you can’t forget. You can’t move on. It changes your perspective. It meets your needs. It forces you to pause and to think.
The best type of gift someone can give is the type that you can’t give back. Something that can’t be repaid. Something that you can’t put a price tag on. Something you can’t buy for yourself.
Sometimes it is just a reminder that you are loved and cared for. Sometimes it is an actual object that is priceless. Sometimes it is an act that nobody else could have done for you. Sometimes it is someone who will listen. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile or a hug. Sometimes it is the gift of quiet. Sometimes it is being together.
The best types of gifts come from the heart. They are the type that a gift card can’t buy.
These are the gifts you never forget. These are the gifts that make you feel loved.
Sons: Part III
I found out three weeks later that our friend actually gave us more than we realized. When I called, he was scheduled to work that night. In order to help us, in order to give us this gift, he had to call in and take time off.
He had to be not only give up his time, but also a portion of his paycheck.
If I had known my friend was scheduled to work that night I wouldn’t have asked him to take our kids. But he kept this a secret. He gave even when I didn’t understand how much the gift cost him.
Have you ever received this kind of gift? Have you ever given this kind of gift?
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