A True Gift: Part One
June 19, 2014
January 17, 2011
It seems like the aftermath of the holiday season has lasted longer than usual. For those of us living in the Southeast, the momentum of the new year was aborted due to snow and ice storms that brought everything to a halt. One of the things I did with my snow day was finish putting Christmas decorations away and take time to reflect on the gifts I received over the holidays.
A girlfriend gave me a bone china coffee mug with images of Gustav Klimt’s artwork on it. She knows me well. She knows of my love for a perfect coffee cup, one with a thin lip and just the right size to fit in my petite and sometimes arthritic hand. She has gone with me to museum’s to see Klimt’s work, and we have spoken of the integration of spirituality and psychology in his artwork. Every morning when I drink out of this mug, I think not only of by girlfriend and our long-term friendship, but I think about my own vocation of integrating spirituality and psychology.
Since Christmas I have had an obsession with my new Muk-Luk slippers. For the first winter since we bought this older bungalow, my feet are warm! The inside of these slipper-boots is furry and soft, and the bottoms have a little plastic on them so my feel are separated from the floor just a little. The knit sides come up mid-calf and yield to my legs without clinging. My husband knew warm, comfortable feet would make me happy! He also adorned me with a handmade piece of jewelry that I swooned over while we were out of town on a trip. The focal point of this necklace is a piece of meteorite, and I told him that wearing a piece of the heavens helps me remember who I am.
Around my neck more often than not has also been a silk and cashmere scarf, ivory in color and as warm as fur. It is practically weightless, but massages my neck with powder like softness and just the slightest sense of presence. Given to me by my daughter, it is a constant, gentle reminder of her love and attention to me. It is beautiful and stylish, yet wearable and sturdy. It is a color that can accompany most of what I usually wear. Perfect, for me.
I have to mention a few more favorite gifts that have all landed in my kitchen. One is a serving dish that is as much a sculpture as it is a serving dish. It’s lines are fluid, modern, and artistic. A set of leaf-shaped dishes in the colors of my kitchen came from someone who said, “I thought of you when I saw these,” and a clock from Italy, made from the same stone as the leaning tower of Pisa, is now on the top of the wine cabinet.
Knowing how much I love to entertain and how important my kitchen is to me, these gifts will not only last a lifetime, they will help me continue to nurture others with beauty and food, as I so love to do.
Why am I writing about gifts? Because the holiday season is wracked with anxiety about gift buying and a needless and exorbitant amount of money is spent. A meaningful gift, however, comes from knowing a person. The gifts I just mentioned matter because the people who gave them to me have taken the time to know me. They spend time with me. They ask me questions. They know what matters to me. They know what inspires me and what concerns me. They notice me and my surroundings. I couldn’t be a more blessed woman.
The true gift is being known. In order to gift someone in a way that can matter, you might want to consider the deeper gift of paying them attention and getting to know them more fully. It is only January. We all have a full year before we encounter the holidays again. Perhaps this year we could make an effort to get to know someone, maybe just one person, more fully. Pay attention. Notice what brings a smile to their face. Ask them engaging questions. Be curious about their joys, sorrows, yearnings, and passions. Take notes if you find it helpful. Then next December the gift giving might be full of freedom and anticipation and joy, as you rest in the gift of knowing someone and being known.
Amy Sander Montanez, D.Min
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