Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gift Giving, Part II

One of the many reasons that I love spilling my heart out on this blog is that my real life friends can use these blog posts as a starting off point for setting me straight. (Efficient communication is highly prized since we are Mothers of multiple young and LOUD children).

Okay, so the lovely Maria B. really opened my heart on the whole "gift-giving as a language of love" idea. The quote that inspired me was "it's not how much the gift costs that counts to me. It the love behind it. When someone gets me something unique and personal, I feel like they really know me." (Okay, I'm paraphrasing. Somehow that was much more succinct and beautiful in person).

Sitting on the leather couch during our Friday Homeschool group, I had a sinking feeling. The Mystic Monks Coffee I purchased wasn't unique or personal. My husband and I loved it because it was the only Carmelite monastery in all of America, but that wasn't really putting our family first.

So I picked a lovely jacket for my Mother-in-law on Saturday morning during my St. Lucy's feast day donut run. This sparked a long conversation with my husband, in which he encouraged me to get "thoughtful" gifts for his family and my family. I ended up spending a long, long time in Target on Saturday afternoon among the throngs of frenzied store clerks and suburban shoppers.

I was way out of my comfort zone.

The thing that got me through was holding my rosary in hand, praying Hail Mary's in the elevator, and patiently scanning things into that electronic price checker to see how many of my kid's Christmas presents could still fit into my budget.

I also took it as a special task to be kind to harried Mothers who had trailing kids on their shopping carts.

I started to mentally complain a lot and then I remembered that it was St. Lucy's feast day. Getting "martyred" in the shopping mall for Christ doesn't really compare to getting your eyeballs plucked out in the 4th century.

I started to complain at home and my husband said "I think we are one of those people who love to show charity to strangers and dislike showing charity to our family members."

Hmm. . . I noticed the large bag of spaghetti supplies for our food pantry and the small brooch for my sister-in-law in my Target bag. Both bought at the same time from the same store at the "request" of my Blessed Mother. The one for the poor I do cheerfully, the one for my sister I totally resent as a "waste of time and money."

Seems like I have some sort of mental block there!

Dear Blessed Mother, help form in me a Marian heart. Help me pray for all of those in material and spiritual need during this Advent season. We hope for peace in our families and peace in our world.

2 comments:

Amber said...

Hmm, that hits a rather sore spot here.

I still think you could make an argument about needs - people need food far more than they need brooches. But if the brooch is what makes your SIL feel loved, then does it make it as worth it? Granted, I can't personally understand how a brooch could make someone feel loved, but I guess it could. Hmm.

Maria said...

What a time to pick to foray into "thoughtful gift" shopping! Even as someone who likes to buy gifts, shopping in the month of December is awful! Good for you to brave the crowds with such a cheerful attitude.

As for finding it easy to love strangers and difficult to love family, Chesterton says it best:

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people."