Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas All Year Long...

My parents are a beautiful couple... not just on the outside but on the inside where it counts the most. I don't know of two more generous people. I'm sure there are some who give more monetarily, but I don't know that many, if any, could compare to the heart and soul that my parents give without reservation and with delight.

With the economy in shambles, unemployment at 1 person in every 10 and health insurance barely scratching the surface of caring for those in need, it's a wonder any of us has room to give. Obviously, the most meaningful giving doesn't come when incomes are high and the grass is vibrant green. Giving becomes the most colorful when it comes during hard times... in spite of the economy and all of the externals stacked against us. When we give in desperate times, we are giving because we want to, not because we should or because we feel we have to.

Our gifts of time, money and resources are more thoughtful when we have to consider the consequences of our sacrifice. It is indeed "better to give than to receive," but how difficult is it to give when we have been receiving barely enough to get by ourselves (if that)? I think at this juncture, it's imperative to consider what we do have to give and realize that the gift of money is not always the answer to the pain or to the need.

I don't want to take away the significance of monetary gifts. Obviously, we live in a world where most resources come at a price. Without financial donations, many of us would not be in a healthy enough condition to give anything. It is true that "money makes the world go 'round" in the sense of our economy. It is the nature of living in an imperfect world, but just because money is needed, it does not make it the "be all and the end all" for giving.

It is true that my husband and I also need money to take care of our food, shelter and clothing. This is an obvious and undeniable truth, and I am grateful for the monetary blessings we receive. However, over the last few years, the gifts of the heart have become the most abundant gifts I have ever received... gifts that keep on giving in an endless supply and without regard to a price tag.

My parents, at age 65+, have never ceased to give heart, soul, strength, mind and money. When there doesn't seem to be enough financial resources, there is a never ending supply of heart resources. While Mom and Dad reach out to the community and to family in ways that astound me, I am particularly focused on the blessing of how they have reached out to my family this year.

2009 is significant for us because of our own unemployment, lack of quality insurance, our own "Madof" scandal, etc., Don and I have been wandering in a very dry desert for the last several years, and the enemy has used many measures of attack; however, not once have my parents refrained from helping, and it's not the gifts of money that have left the lasting impressions... 

My parents have been so generous to our family throughout 2009, not to mention always, but they have given way above and way beyond, this year in particular. We are so grateful. We do not need presents under the tree this Christmas. We have EVERYTHING we could ever want or need.

When we needed extra support, my parents stepped up to the plate without blinking an eye. Mom and Dad's generosity afforded us some wonderful experiences this year including an extended family trip to Florida, their own sweat and muscle power (not to mention aching backs) to help landscape our home, shopping outings, special lunches during the week, family dinners out to eat, Sunday night meals together and so much more.

More than the monetary, though, Mom and Dad have blessed us with beautiful memories of being together as an extended family--a gift that Don, the children and I will cherish forever... Permanent pictures imprinted on our hearts and in our photo books. My parents are always ready to go and ready to engage. We love that quality about them -- individually and as a couple. They are an inspiration.

That said, however, the most significant gift that my parents gave us this year was their willingness to sit down with us and counsel us through a difficult decision and a tiring season of life. One day in particular proved to be a turning point for us. We have marked this Fall day in 2009 as a day of empowerment, confidence and support -- none of which could be bought at any price. We will forever remember that day, perhaps even as an altar in our desert -- a cold cup of water, an oasis, a breath of fresh air.

Gifts of the heart are costlier than gifts of gold and the reward is greater. The MasterCard commercial so ironically juxtaposes monetary gifts against personal experiences as "priceless". 

My parents gifts have been, and continue to be, exactly that for us: Priceless. 

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for being Christmas all year long.

I love you both with all of my heart.