The holiday season is upon us and the spirit of giving fills the air. With the financial crisis looming on the horizon gifts may be fewer and leaner. Perhaps, as we carefully select our gifts we can be guided by the commonly held wisdom “it’s not the gift but the thought that counts.” Thirty-six years ago this truth took on new meaning in a core belief which has to this day influenced my own gift giving. I believe a gift from the heart is priceless and forever.
Anyone who has received a hand made gift has a good idea of what I mean. Certainly those plaster handprints of a preschooler or the knitted afghan from an aunt are more precious than gold. Yet this gift which has inspired my belief was not crafted by the giver.
It was the Christmas of 1972. I was home on Christmas break from Princeton Seminary. I wanted to dress up for a very special occasion and I had not brought a suit and tie with me. Knowing that my dad and I were the same clothes size I knew I could borrow an outfit from him. As I looked through his closet I discovered a blue, double breasted sports coat which I immediately coveted. My dad was reluctant to let me borrow his prize possession. With a little persuasion, he relented, and I proudly wore the jacket.
On Christmas morn my Dad surprised me with a package. I was not expecting anything. I had not provided him with the proverbial wish list. I was clueless as to what this could be. When I opened the package and pulled out my father’s double-breasted jacket I could barely contain the tears. I knew this was a gift from his heart. I felt deeply loved by the man I had always loved and respected.
Since that time, I have always sought to discover a heart-felt gift for those whom l love. I don’t know if I have succeeded. In spite of any proven results, I still believe that a gift carefully chosen by our hearts as well as our thoughts goes beyond anything money can buy. You see my Dad died three months after that Christmas yet the love which came through his gift remains ever so strong with me today. I continue to hope that because of my heart-felt giving others have or will experience the power of my belief that a gift from the heart is priceless and forever.