I've always loved Christmas, and I have to admit that while I like to receive presents, I get much greater pleasure out of giving. As a young teenager working in my folks hardware store during the Christmas season, I loved to take the family out to dinner on Christmas Eve to one of the nicer restaurants in town located down by the beach. It felt good to pull the money out of my own wallet and pay the ticket and give something special to my family that was there.
But the Christmas 30+ years ago was different. It seemed that I didn't have anything to give. I was in college and no job so I didn't have any cash. My parents were struggling so they didn't have much to give. As I remember, as a family, we decided that we weren't really going to buy gifts for Christmas that year. We would make them instead.
I don't know how it came about, but I have to believe that it was my sister Debbie's idea that she and I do something together. There are some things that you need to know about Debbie. First, she is an extremely gifted person with a lot of "right" brain talents. She is extremely creative and has an eye for things beautiful. And...she is very bright. I remember as a child growing up having teachers ask if I was "Debbie's brother" because she was such a good student.
Her idea was to create a photo album using pictures I had taken over the past several years. That seemed easy enough. If I had been doing it on my own, the photo album would have turned out very symmetrical with four pictures evenly distributed on each page, most likely without any apparent organization. But that wasn't Debbie's vision.
She had found a poetry book that I had gotten while I was still in elementary school called "Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle". I'm not sure how she got it from me, but she did. She loves reading as much or more than I do, and probably loves poetry "more" than I do. So she takes my pictures and spreads them through a photo album, organized by themes and places beautiful poetry in amongst the pictures. To go through the album is not a 5 second per page process. Her magic transformed some 3x5 photos of our family into a true gift!
The present was addressed to Mom and Dad, but it was for all of us. And all of us have spent countless hours at different times looking at those pictures and reading those words. Before mom got sick, she made copies of all of the pictures for each of us kids, but she missed the best part. We got the pictures, but we didn't get the magic.
So, today as I reflect on that gift...a gift from my sister and me to our family, it causes my entire body to smile. It allows me to remember one of the few happy times with my family. It focuses my memory on some good times. And it leads me to reflect on a gift...a wonderful gift from God who is my sister.
And on this day, I want her to know how much I love her and wish her a Happy Birthday!
I love you.