They are just two tiny hands, back when there were only two. As it goes for Christmas presents, their choice is decidedly girly. The cup is large and flowery looking, and was done as a gift at one of those pottery do-it-yourself places. The two hands are bigger now of course, and yet I still secretly like this mug. Its the ongoing gift of memory. It makes me think of a certain time, and smile. It is my smiley cup. Sometimes you like a gift more, because of who it is from. This is the case for my cup. There is good will and innocent intent behind it which will not diminish with age. As such, it is a gift that will keep on giving.
Giving gifts that reflect yourself is not a new thing. My mom always gave out beige sweaters and golf shirts because she liked them, even though I always hated them. I always looked like an underweight scarecrow in a golf shirt. Still, considering the giver, I appreciate those gifts. They were given with the best of intent.
I can still recall my first sacrificial gift. All of my big brothers had paper routes, and some pocket money. They could buy gifts. I had no income, and as such, could give nothing. I was too young. I asked my Dad for a loan... and he offered me a deal. He would loan me four dollars if I promised to polish shoes early every Sunday morning, for a quarter a session. A session is moving through a pair of church shoes, and a pair of everyday shoes, for every family member. That was me, the shoe-shine, buffing away at eighteen pairs of shoes early on a Sunday morning. Of course, the very silly punch line is that four dollars is not a fortune. I ended up buying a set of mugs... it did not occur to me that every brother getting an identical mug was not anybody’s idea of a dream gift. Still, it was the best I could do. The shoe-shining seemed to go on for a very long time, paying all that off. I think my dad simply forgot and it became my job in perpetuity. Still, it was my first chance to take part in the joy of giving, from the work of my own hands.
Gifts always signify more than what they are. When a husband and a wife exchange bands at a wedding ceremony, they are not just giving a golden piece of jewelry, they are giving themselves, and a lifetime which still is unknown, and spread out in front of them. A bride and a groom do not yet fully understand what it is they are giving. Never mind, time will inform them in all of its nuances, of all the meanings that stand behind a gift.
People give what they can, and they give what they know. They are giving something of themselves, and it is a snapshot of relationship. I still have a number of momentos that were given out on Father’s Day. They reinforce that the person giving them thought I did a good job. That they thought so, is more important to me than the gift. It is after all my job, and no one wants to fail at important and key responsibilities. The job gets a little more complex as you go along, there are grown up nuances to consider in this big job of love and family. Still, it does not diminish the gift.
Gifts have personality, the personality of family. There is always a bit of a secret joke or a story that sits behind that bow and paper. There will be a recognition of meaning when the gift is opened… I know you, and you know me. Maybe laughter.
My kids tell me this year mischievously that they are going to get me a “murse”, ie: a man-purse just because they know it will in some way rankle me. They know I grew up in an era where gender was never considered to be fluid. When the school bell rang, boys went into one door marked “boys” and girls went in by the door marked “girls”. Never mind. I will carry it proudly just as I am happy to respond when anyone asks me why I am drinking out of a big flowery girl cup.
“My kids gave it to me. I love it”.
And so it shall be with all gifting. Gifts are perennial goodness that speak of relationship, our greatest treasure, and as such they will always be much more than what they are.