I love to give presents. Finding that perfect item for someone - and ten more as well - brightens my day. Just the thought of their pleasure when they open it makes my toes wriggle. I love it all: the whispering, the smuggling of bags up the stairs, the joyous warnings of "no one goes into my room from now till the 25th!" Even better is to make a present that I know will please the receiver. I am beside myself with barely suppressed excitement the whole season when that happens.
Some people talk about the commercialization of Christmas and complain that everyone gets too many presents. I nod as though I understand that this might be conceivable and make a mental note not to invite them over in December. Brightly-wrapped presents spread out from under my tree in a mountain of abandon, multiplying and creeping across the room as THE DAY approaches, until it is nearly impossible for the recipients to squeeze themselves into the room. On Christmas day I get up slowly. Oh, how I want to prolong the delicious anticipation of those waiting presents!
A gift is something entirely different. "Youth is a gift," we tell the young, shaking our heads as they appear to squander it. "Life is a gift," we remind those who are sad. "Love is a gift," we advise those who are focused on other things. Gifts are intangible things of great value, often overlooked, taken for granted until we face losing them. If presents are like sunshine, gifts are like air; one makes us smile, the other allows us to breathe. Allows us to live. Because people cannot live without the feeling of being gifted. Whether it's youth or age, life or love, hope or faith, talent or interest, without our sense of having received a gift, we die of depression, loneliness, despair, anger or bitterness.
I have not always felt gifted. At 23 I was diagnosed with a chronic, incurable illness. At times I thought it would define my life. But it hasn't. I have been hurt, as we all have, sometimes so badly I saw no reason to go on. I thought I would never heal. But I did. Don't ask me how. Being gifted is a mysterious, inexplicable ... well, gift.
So I take pleasure in this season of presents. I revel in a gluttony of giving. I give the lesser things that I can give, because I know how much I have been gifted.
Do you feel that you've been gifted? How? Have there been times in your life that you didn't feel gifted?