Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gifts for Christmas ... Labor

Today was one of those days when I felt like I had to make a reservation just to have a "potty break," with every minute of the day spoken for. Ever feel that way?

Of course, this is also the week when I need to make a few gift decisions; gift giving can start to feel like a burden, instead of a pleasure. I don't want it to be that way! Jesus loves a cheerful giver, not a frazzled one who just hits "add to cart" so a name can be checked off of a list.

While I'm trying to uphold the "holy" in this Christmas season, I can get swept up in the frenzy of everything around me. I stopped in to buy a few fresh groceries today and was accosted by racks of stockings, blankets, sweatshirts, and plastic trucks placed strategically to lure shoppers. I grabbed my broccoli and Texas toast and got out of there!

So before I cave in and wrap piles of chia pets or snuggies (NOT to say that's bad, if you have those on your list ;) ), I'm going to take a few days to reflect on some of the gifts that have meant that most to me. I love to give gifts, but I want to give gifts that really make deposits into the life of the receiver, as these gifts have for me.

Let me share the first treasured gift of a Christmas past ...

When Jeff and I were in college at what is now Cedarville University, we helped to build a class float at a nearby farm. Farmer Ramsesy was so friendly to us, and we enjoyed going to visit him with friends, having bonfires at the farm, and getting off campus. When poking around an outbuilding one day, we saw an old box so covered with dust and cobwebs that it was the color of gray cement. We wondered out loud at what it was used for and what it looked like in its prime. I told Jeff I would love to know what its history was.

Home in Virginia for Christmas break, I was so glad when Jeff drove down to visit my family, showing up with a strange blanket-covered heap in his back seat. He's always loved surprises and is a great secret keeper, so he made me wait until the perfect moment to uncover his treasure.

Barely recognizable, the gift he brought was a glossy wooden box with a shiny black lock and hinges. It was made to carry harnesses for a team of work horses ... at Mr. Ramsey's farm. Jeff had gone back to pull out the old dusty gray box, paid a few dollars for the discarded piece, and then started the laborious work of bringing it back to life. Jeff didn't have much money to spend, but he gave me the best gift he had to offer... a labor of love.

After sandblasting and smoothing and staining and glossing, the old tack box was redeemed and given new life. It has been the centerpiece of our living room for almost 20 years, except for a few years when we lived in Asia. It holds our memories in pictures, and it is a treasured piece of our history together. It cost a few dollars and a lot of hard labor. It spoke love to me, and it is one of my favorite gifts of Christmas past.

Loving to be given a gift that "costs" is one of the ways we reflect our Maker, for the Lord also loves when we present ourselves to Him as a sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). Knowing that a gift came at a price to the giver makes it more precious.

I hope these days of reflecting on treasured gifts will stir your heart as you consider what gifts to give. Perhaps someone you love would be blessed by receiving a "Labor of Love".

Ten Labor examples for your idea list:

  • House cleaning
  • Watching kids for a night out
  • Offering a skill you have (painting, sewing, car upkeep, financial help)
  • Organizing a closet (You can give this to me :) )
  • Giving new life to a favorite toy/stuffed animal
  • Putting photos into an album (Mom, this is for you)
  • Rebinding a treasured Bible
  • Deep cleaning the inside of a car ... or purse :)
  • Re-doing an antique
  • Giving a pedicure to a loved one (have to be close friends :) )

1 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Susan said...

I love the story of the wooden box. That was truly a labor of love.