Gift from the heart priceless, no matter how much it costs
When one has limited funds, a great deal of creativity and ingenuity must go into the selection and securing of Christmas gifts. My children and I have become quite adept at this art form, preferring to contribute the majority of the money we set aside for Christmas presents to worthy causes rather than swap “stuff.”
This in no way means we don’t have gifts to open. We just have fewer of them. My gifts to them over the past few years have been the various books I’ve worked on with friends, or scrapbooks of the special events we’ve shared, or framed prints of scenic East Tennessee sights I’ve shot with my trusty little camera. Occasionally, when review copies of books come to me at the office and I think one of my children would enjoy them, I’ll wrap them up as gifts, as well. I always tell them the source. Of course, they would know by the smirk on my face that a story lies behind the gift.
This year, my son Adam wins the prize for the best Christmas gift-giving process ever. In a sort of “Gift of the Magi” twist, Adam, who has been unemployed for a couple of months, not only gave both me and his dad the perfect gifts, he used his innate talents to do so. Now, you must understand that Adam is a lot like his Papaw Braden in that he enjoys tinkering with things, and also like his Papaw Braden, he is quite adept at it. He put this ability to excellent use this Christmas.
The process began when Adam asked me about the tiller that has been stored unused in the shed for nearly 10 years. His dad wondered if I’d sell it to him. I said, well, it’s his tiller, just take it to him. Adam instead decided he would trade work around my house for the tiller, take the tiller and spend the time and effort in getting it to run properly again as his dad’s Christmas gift. (Just as a side note, Miss Packrat here found all the paperwork associated with that tiller in the file cabinet, from when it was purchased in 1996 or thereabouts. ...)
In the meantime, Adam’s stepmom asked him to install a light over the pool table at their house as a gift to Adam’s dad. This involved removing a very nice, relatively new ceiling fan, which she told Adam he could have if he wanted it. Adam knew I had been wanting a ceiling fan for my bedroom and asked if she minded it being used for that. No, not at all, she said.
The next step was getting me out of the house so he could install the fan. He made the excuse that he wanted to work on his girlfriend’s present, putting a number of photos of her family and friends in a beautiful collage frame that he left at my house so she wouldn’t find it. (He went to a lot of trouble finding the perfect photos, sneaking them from Facebook pages, her cell phone, etc., so I could print them for him.) I wondered why he kept hinting that I should go ahead and leave for work the day he came by to finish up the collage and wrap it, as a gift mostly from him but partially from me, too.
When I got home that night, it was late. I let the dogs out, fed them, got everyone settled in for the night and then had my own supper. It was after midnight when I finally walked into the bedroom and flipped on the light ... a light attached to a ceiling fan installed in my room, those lovely blades turning around and around — the perfect gift!
It was too late to call that night but the next morning, I did, feeling a bit guilty since I knew Adam didn’t have the money for such a nice present. Then I heard the whole story and was much happier. “You don’t think that’s weird, do you?” Adam asked, a bit anxiously, I thought, considering the fan had of late resided at his dad and stepmother’s house. I just laughed.
We are a bit odd, I suppose, in that we celebrate the frugality rather than be offended by the origination of our gifts. Why be offended? A gift given in the right spirit with the recipient’s wants and needs in mind is priceless. Plus, you just can’t put a dollar amount on anything given from the heart, with love.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (firstname.lastname@example.org)