Gifts of Love
The Gift of Giving
When I was a young mother, I thought emphasizing the idea of "giving" rather than "receiving" would help build character in my daughters. So our family activities centered around this idea. Each year we send birthday cards, not only to family members, but to friends too, signed by all of us. A special phone call with a "Happy Birthday" song was usual. These activities were meant to help my daughters think about others and to help make others feel special and loved.
What began as a mother's hope spiraled into other family activities. Soon we were visiting nursing homes on a weekly basis. The activities' director gave us two women to visit at first, then we became friends with other residents, and we ended up visiting many more. We sang inspirational songs to our friends each Sunday, and some of the nurses joined in our singing. These nursing home residents became like "grandmas" to my daughters and like "mothers" to me. Although my daughters seemed reluctant in the beginning, they eventually looked forward to these visits.
Throw a rock into a pond and watch the rippling effect. These family activities eventually spiraled into more service activities. We took our Polynesian show to other nursing homes in the area, and we didn't stop there. Opportunities appeared, and we provided entertainment for local church groups, for community fund raising events, for school cultural events, and for scouting activites. In addition, each Christmas we baked "sweet treats" and shared them when we went Christmas caroling. All of these activities had become enjoyable family traditions.
A friend once asked, "Why are you always serving others?" I thought that was an interesting question. She continued, "Do you have some sort of void in your life that you feel the 'need' to give?" I thought that was an even more intriguing question. I had no idea that the joy of service and serving would provoke such criticism and suspicion. Although I was surprised at first, I later gained an appreciation for her questions because in my search for the answer, I learned a lot about myself.
You are Loved
Some time in my life's journey, perhaps as a young struggling wife and mother, I learned that it was important to me that everyone in my life--my husband, my children, my parents, my family and my friends--knew that they were important and loved by me. That is what motivates me in all that I do. It drives each decision I make, each word I choose, and each action I take.
At Christmastime, a time of giving "and" receiving, I reflect upon the lessons of the past. I have learned that it is not only important to teach our children to give, but we must also teach our children how to "receive." There is wisdom in the balance of opposites. Today, I take every opportunity I can find to try to make up for those missed lessons. Saying "thank you," when a gift is given, writing a note of thanks, and offering a hug are some of the ways I try to teach by example. Generally, when someone truly gives a gift from the heart, that person does not expect a gift in return. Accepting a gift without feeling the "guilt" of needing to give in return is an important concept that warrants contemplation.
Each Day is an Opportunity
These heart lessons began from my concerns as a mother and resulted in treasured family traditions. Every day is an opportunity to give a "Gift of Love."
Written December 26, 2007