My birthday is tomorrow. Which got me thinking about gifts. Not because I’m totally gift-focused because I’m not. Receiving gifts actually stresses me out a little bit because I’m not good at giving an instant reaction. My thanks is better expressed in how I use the gift than in the exact moment I receive it.
Here are some memorable gifts I didn’t ask for that touched my heart. (Please don’t be offended if you’ve given me a gift and it’s not mentioned here. These are the first five that came to mind and they aren’t all birthday gifts. The danger of making a short list is leaving someone out.)
1. A pink Columbia brand fleece jacket. The first Christmas Phil and I celebrated as a couple, this was his gift. I remember how excited he was to give it to me, and it is still my go-to outerwear in spring, fall and sometimes winter. My husband is great at giving gifts. I could spend an entire post on the best gifts he’s given me, but I’d probably lose readers.
2. The Book of Common Prayer. A couple from church gifted this to us as we’ve expressed an interest and love for liturgy, the church calendar and the use of the lectionary. I have used this book almost daily for months, and it continues to touch my heart because it is a gift I would have never thought to ask for from people who haven’t known us long but were thoughtful enough to present us with a gift we will cherish.
3. An ice scraper and a spray-on window defroster for my car. In the early days of my relationship with Phil, we spent a lot of time at each other’s houses, often driving home in winter in the dark, when northern Illinois temperatures drop below freezing and leave frost on the windshield. One night, Phil’s brother and the woman who would become his wife, gave me this gift to ease the process of driving home in winter. It was especially meaningful because at the time, our relationship was not strong nor was I terribly kind or loving toward them. Over the years, that has changed and I’ve learned that they, too, are exceptional gift givers.
4. An all-expenses-paid trip to a writers conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I will forever remember the generosity of a couple from my hometown who saw an advertisement for this conference and felt led to pay my way. I had never considered going to a writers conference. I was working as a journalist at the time with no concrete writing dreams beyond what I was doing. It was a stretching experience for me as I drove the whole way by myself, took in some sight-seeing on the way back and let God open my world to the opportunities in Christian publishing. It was a life-changer for me, and I consider it an investment that has yet to accomplish its full return.
5. A royal wedding tea cup. When Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, my English friend and pen pal sent me a tea cup with their pictures on it. I was having sort of a blah day when it arrived and I was so tickled because of the uniqueness of the gift.
This is a small slice of the meaningful gifts I’ve received over the years, and recalling them makes me feel blessed to have special people in my life. It also challenges me to take more notice of my loved ones and find gifts that would be meaningful to them.
How about you? What meaningful gifts have you received?