In this yuletide season I have been contemplating presents and giving and reminiscing about Christmases past. Presents was a point of contention when Beloved and I first got together. You see, he is of the kind who refuses all hints or clues as to what a person may want, looks for hours to find the perfect gift then gives it with a quiet humility that belies the work he put into choosing it. I am of the type that takes a gift, appreciates the idea and then exchanges said gift for something I actually wanted or regifts it to someone else so it doesn't clutter up the house with yet more stuff.
You can see our problem.
Gifts I have gotten for Beloved over the years have been many and varied from touching, sentimental, well thought out gifts to "whoops, I forgot, did we really get married on the 23rd?" and honestly I haven't loved him any less on the "whoops, I forgot" occasions! He has kept everything. Even the little note books I wrote for him in our courting days full of reasons I think he is special and the dozen or so Johnny Cash CD's (with a few doubles in there) because, well, he likes Johnny Cash and it was quick and easy to grab a few CDs. I get chastised if I try and throw any of it out.
I never have really got the fuss over gifts personally. I don't think I am that hard to buy for and honestly am not phased at all if I get nothing but a cuddle and a kiss and a "Merry Christmas!". If I do get a gift I prefer it to (a) not clutter up the house or need storage of any kind (b) be something I actually NEED or (c) be cash or a gift voucher so I can get what I actually want. One of my favorite gifts to receive is mulch - because it breaks down and doesn't clutter the house and doesn't require anything other than being spread on the garden! I don't expect people to read my mind, just don't expect me to hang on to something I neither need nor want. I can appreciate the thought while someone else appreciates the gift. I am told there is such a thing as being TOO pragmatic about such things.
I forget to water plants he buys me even though I love gardening, I drop, break and loose things on a regular basis (in general, not just his gifts, it's just what I do) and I forget that he gave me something and donate it to charity on occasion too. I remember one year when we were still newly weds he gave me a HUGE, very difficult cross stitch reasoning that I had been doing cross stitch a lot lately so a cross stitch would be a good gift. I asked him if he would mind if I used the bits to make something that was a little less ugly than the picture on the front of the kit. Tact, it seems,is what he should have got me for Christmas.
We have come far since those newly wed days though.
I now try and be a little more thoughtful, a little more tactful and a little more appreciative. He now understands that "STUFF" isn't my thing and if I don't seem enthusiastic, it isn't because I am not enthusiastic about HIM! I now TRY and remember things like birthdays and anniversaries (I did forget this year though) and he now listens when I say "Hey, I need some place mats for the table I can wipe down, if you want an idea for Christmas there's one!". I try not to throw out or donate gifts and he doesn't get quite so upset if I do have a foggy moment and accidentally do.
Because the thing is, the real gift we give each other is smooth edges.
Like river stones rubbing against each other as they turn over in the water.
Over the years we have become better versions of our selves as the Holy Spirit rubbed us against each other.
Which is what relationships, all relationships, are all about.
So when you feel like throttling a friend or relation this Christmas Season, stop and think. This moment could be your true present from them. An opportunity to become a better person. They could be being your river stone.