During my senior year of high school, I helped write a local, social history for our town. In the process, I interviewed several residents who shared stories about their younger days.
Of them all, the only person I remember now is Ann, a widow and philanthropist, who reminded me of a duchess. She had soft blue eyes and straight, silver hair wrapped in a neat bun. Usually we met for lunch in a refined Italian restaurant more suited to society women than teen-aged girls. Yet, Ann always treated me as a friend and always bought my lunch.
When I was with Ann, I dressed like a lady, sat up straight in my chair, ate small bites of the lasagna we often shared, and listened attentively to her stories so I could capture every word in my spiral notebook. With her, I felt transported to another time, not only by her stories, but by her gracious manners and kind nature.
When I graduated from high school, she gave me a beautiful card. Tucked inside was a crisp $50.00 bill. I stared at it in awe as I realized that the money was a gift for me, not a donation to the social history project.
I no longer remember that history. The restaurant has changed hands and been re-decorated many times since those days. And that $50.00, which I invested in my college savings account, paid for tuition or books long ago.
Yet, Ann’s presence remains with me, her warmth and gentility, and even though she never said it, the love she gave me. What I remember still, of all the words she spoke, is this: “Remember to give to others. It always comes back to you.”
The child who’ll be born in a manger, who’ll teach the world new ways of living and being will teach this:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back (Luke 6:38, NRSV).
As some of us rush around to finish shopping, perhaps spending more than we intend, feeling more obligated than loving, let us remember that the price of the gift means little without the warmth of pure giving, which is the spirit of love.
As we consider our gift lists, let us remember that we give more in our presence, our kindness, our grace, and our love than ever can be wrapped in glittery paper. When we give in love, we give ourselves as part of the gift. And when the boxes are recycled and the gadgets wear out, no matter where we may travel next, our love will remain, flowing back to us, even years later, in rich and wondrous ways.
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Habari Gani, and Happy New Year, Blessed Readers. I love sharing this journey with you.
© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.