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The Gift
Photo: José A. Warletta
She is a quiet young girl with a gentle smile and warm, brown eyes. And although she is smart and talented she never tries to draw attention to herself.

I watch her now, on this last day of class before Christmas break. Amid the flurry of the party, the laughing, the ripping of wrapping paper, she is calm. She turns her gaze toward her teacher as he begins to unveil the pile of gifts on his desk. He wades through stacks of chocolate boxes and other treats, carefully reading each card and thanking the students by name.

But when he unwraps her gift, he stops…amazed. For she has given of herself, her best work, painstakingly labored over for days. It is a carefully matted and framed portrait of her dog, done in pencil and ink. They are both animal lovers, and she knows he will enjoy it. She smiles shyly from her seat as the teacher tries to express his appreciation and other students crowd in close to look.

I Wonder About That Gift

Later, as I press through the clamor of holiday shoppers at the mall, I wonder about that gift. What made it so outstanding? Was it the fact that she was talented enough to create a thing of great beauty? Or did it have more to do with the fact that she chose to invest her time, to use her hands in creating something that was meaningful to both the giver and receiver?

Part of the challenge of giving gifts is that we feel like we have to give so many, sometimes to people we barely know. We rationalize, therefore, that the gifts should be generic, just to be safe. Sometimes we give from motives that say: “I want this gift to make you think well of me, or to fulfill my obligation to you since you gave me a gift.” We think that our gifts have to be expensive enough so others do not think of us as miserly, or financially deprived, yet not so expensive that they feel guilty for not having spent more on us. It can get extremely complicated. No wonder so many people just buy gift certificates! They require only two decisions—which store and how much?

As I stand in the lengthy checkout line surveying my intended purchases, my mind goes back to that very first Christmas – and the whole reason I am thinking about gifts. The birth of a tiny baby in a stable to an unknown peasant girl was NOT the kind of gift people were expecting! It just didn’t meet their standards. But it turned out to be the best possible gift, because it was given from a motive of love that is purer and deeper than we can begin to comprehend. It’s that type of love that becomes the ultimate pattern on which to base all succeeding gifts.

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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