Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gifts that Keep Giving

Today I was remembering those Christmas Eve nights when I was a girl. I can still recall my sister and I, who slept in the same room, whispering excitedly to each other from our twin beds. Our parents tried to be quiet as they made repeated trips to the car to bring things from the trunk and rummaged around in THE closet where they thought we would never find the hidden purchases of the last few weeks. I always thought that finding the stash seemed exciting until the year I went sneaking around and was able to read through the shopping bag in the closet and made a discovery before Christmas morning. The surprises were the best part of Christmas.

When my brother was very small, we went shopping and bought my mom a special present, a new Bible. We all wanted so much for it to be a surprise. We allowed our baby brother to see the gift and watch as we wrapped it and placed it under the tree. My sister and I weren't at all sure he could keep quiet as we swore him to secrecy.  The moment came when mom was about to unwrap the package we had painstakingly wrapped and just as she was about to open one end...... you guessed it... my baby brother opened his mouth and out came... "It's not a book and it's not a Bible!" I'm not sure we laughed so hard at any other Christmas when we were children.

This small chapter in our lives as a family have been remembered repeatedly over the years as we get together as a family. Every year or so, that memory will come to one of our minds as someone is unwrapping and  will say "It's not a book and it's not a Bible" and we all dissolve into laughter. It's a family thing! And now that my mother and my brother are no longer with us, this memory is even sweeter for each of us. I like to think it's their way of showing up to be in our midst. Surprises don't have to come in packages all tied up with beautiful bows. They can come quite unexpectedly in most unusual ways... a thought.. a memory... visiting us from a Christmas past. So, this Christmas keep your heart open for a moment that might become a gift that will keep on giving through the years.

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