As a mom, there are a lot of gifts my boys receive they really don’t want. What teenager really wants to find Payne’s Common Sense or de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in their Christmas stocking?
My youngest son was not thrilled to find Lewis’ space trilogy in his stocking (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength). He spent the rest of his holiday trying to slip his oldest brother his trilogy when I wasn’t looking.
No, my boys don’t always appreciate many of the gifts I give. Some gifts aren’t wrapped as pretty as a Christmas gift or stocking stuffers. Some are the gift of discipline, the gift of No, the gift of re-doing math problems, the gift of project development and completion, the gift of dress clothes for appropriate moments, the gift of not leaving the table until your plate is clean – but that I throw out the lure – and leave it there, in faith, knowing that at some point – the gift will enrich their lives – the mom in me has learned how to wait for a gift’s appreciation.
Delayed appreciation doesn’t always make parenting a feel-good job. It takes a while for a seed planted to grow. Learning to love unconditionally in the interim, to walk faith in the hope of a seed planted –whether it is a reading seed, a math seed, a moral seed, a relationship seed, a good-choice seed, even a God seed – those seed gifts will one day be pulled in, used and even valued.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” (Matt 7:11, The Message)
God knows, though, that we need good moments – moments where our love gifts need to be accepted with alcrity – cheerful readiness, liveliness and briskness – whether the gift is a big thing or a little thing – maybe as little a thing as a hat.
In November, I started knitting slouchy hats. Sometimes the best ideas come at the last minute. For the next 6 weeks, I knitted slouchy hats – knitting 5 rows of one yarn and changing to 5 rows of another yarn x 4 slouchy hats. Some people had elves making mischief over the holidays. Instead of finding an elf, I would find a slouchy hat out of my collection bag – on a head – as though I wouldn’t notice. Every time I turned my back, one of the boys had fished out a slouchy hat out of my knitting bag:
“This one’s mine.”
“Can I wear it today – it is so cool.”
“I think I need to make sure it fits.”
You are such an awesome mom – you’ll let me wear it today?
Such beautiful words – when they want something only I can give.
What makes gift receiving so sweet sometimes is the suspense. They waited – no matter how many times I had to pluck hats off, tickle ribs away from my knitting basket.
All the while I knitted gifts, they gave me teasing smiles, humor, mercenary charm – and lots of laughter. I don’t think they knew they were giving me gifts in return – but they did.
On Christmas, the stockings came down and the hats were hung from the Mantle, waiting for the First Annual Family Hat Day on New Years Day (I didn’t make the Christmas deadline)– one for grandbaby girl, one for my DIL, a toboggan for my soldier son – and 4 slouchy hats.
Moments like those make those delayed-gift-appreciations easier to bear. Right now, I have to wait for the oldest brother to finish reading the younger brother’s Christmas gifts – but I walk in faith of the hope that one day, the littlest will value reading. One day, all the tough gifts will be appreciated like Slouchy Hats on a New Years Day.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11))
946) 7 hats hanging from a mantle
947) Bothers stealing brothers books because they love to read
948) 6 smiles beneath 6 hats – baby girl love taking her hat off
949) 5 cardinals in a tree outside my door
950) Standing on the back porch with my husband, watching the rain in the nighttime, a torrent of rain sweeping everywhere, spraying our faces
951) The sweet smell of rain – even if it is 65 degrees in January
952) Winter coming
953) A son telling me he is praying for someone he cares about
954) The Father helping me reach a decision
955) Toscano Soup on a Saturday
956) Baby girl turning one
957) Squirrels playing in trees outside my office window
958) My MIL visiting for a week
960) Sweet smells from a sugar cookie candle
961) Citrus Mint tea from my son
962) Home – just being home