Can’t wait for friends and family to open your lovingly selected presents? Well, let me share what I have learned about gift giving: your pleasure must be in finding and giving the gift because if you’re counting on the recipient’s response then the gift is really about you and not them.
Here’s how I learned this: A few years ago my “faux son” graduated from college. Wes and I consider him and his sister our “faux children.” We’ve known them since they were infants, but more important, we’ve traveled to exotic locations with them and their parents and endured jellyfish stings, mosquito bites, sprained ankles, food poisoning, heat exhaustion, lacerations and serious fevers. This creates bonds that shopping at Toy ‘R Us simply can’t provide.
In 2000 we went to Greece when our faux son was eleven. While playing on the beach I found this rock. It looked like an eye! We called it “The Eye Rock” and considered it magical and mystical.
I kept this rock until 2011 at which time I thought, “I know just what I’m going to give Faux Son for his college graduation—the Eye Rock!”
I found a suitably big ring box and lined it with velvet and made a perfect little indentation in which the Eye Rock nestled. But I wasn’t done. I must write a blessing!
I thought about this young man and how smart and kind and sensitive and funny he is. I thought about his hopes and dreams for the future. Overcome with love and affection for him I wept as I wrote:
May the Eye Rock give you Vision to see beyond boundaries and obstacles and see all sides.
May the Eye Rock give you Focus when you need it most.
May the Eye Rock give you Hindsight to learn from your mistakes.
May the Eye Rock give you Foresight to prevent mistakes.
May the Eye Rock enable you to look deeply within yourself.
May the Eye Rock give you Clarity to see what is best for you and those around you.
May the Eye Rock help you see the Divine in every person you meet.
I read this over and over and cried each time. I envisioned him holding the Eye Rock and reading the blessing whenever he was troubled—a bad romance, a work problem, a health issue—and then coming to clarity about it.
I folded the blessing accordion-style so that it fit into the box. I attached a red silk ribbon onto the parchment so that if you gave it a gentle tug, it would majestically unfold in all its wisdom.
His graduation dinner was at a fancy restaurant and his family and friends were all there. I couldn’t stand waiting. I handed him the box and said, “Congratulations, sweetie. Please open it.”
I held my breath. He opened it. “Oh, the eye rock,” he said. “I remember this.”
“Pull on the ribbon.”
He pulled on the ribbon and the blessing unfolded. He took a few moments and read it. “Cool! Thanks, Auntie.” Then he gave me a hug, got another glass of wine and rejoined his friends.
Cool? That’s it? (I was so stunned that later I had to ice the bruises on my feet caused by my jaw dropping so hard.)
So you may be asking, “What did you want?”
I wanted him to choke back tears, hold his hand over his heart and say, “Oh, Auntie, this is best present anyone has ever given me! I’ll always think of you whenever I look at it. I’ll treasure it forever.”
Okay, writing that just now, I’m actually laughing out loud. But this is the High Drama that the ego just loves! It took me a while to remember the tears of pure joy and love I shed while thinking of him and putting his gift together.
My greatest satisfaction was in the making and the giving of his gift. So in this Season of Giving and Great Expectations please find joy in the journey because the response at arrival is uncertain—just ask Joseph and Mary. There were no rooms in the inns of Bethlehem but there a Great Light was born.
May the Eye Rock/Holy Spirit help you to always see the Light in the midst of the Darkness.