Thursday, December 4, 2008

Photostory Friday: Gifts

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek



This one's more about a picture than a photo. 
It's also a little wordy. Bear with me...




I've been thinking about gifts. The gifts we give. The gifts we receive (the gifts we get but don't really want, so we re-gift to someone else). 

The Joy of giving. It is more blessed to give than to receive. We are told that from the time we are old enough to understand. We nod our heads in agreement, and hope that we don't have to answer verbally, because what we're really thinking about is all that loot under the tree, with our name on it. 

But, eventually, we all have the chance to give, without expectation of reward. And we find that, sometimes, the best gifts are intangible. 

Why is giving so satisfying? Naturally we are selfish creatures. Our inclination is to feed and shelter ourselves. We want to get whatever there is to be gotten, before someone else gets it. It's called the acquisitive instinct -- the desire to acquire. It is not in our natural interest to give unconditionally. So, why do we do it?

We know the answer to that question, of course, -- it's because of that feeling. We all know it; it warms us from the inside out -- starting somewhere near the heart. 

If taking is an expression of nature, then giving is an expression of the divine. God gives. When we give, freely and without condition, we are being true to our divine heritage. Giving is the right thing to do. That's why it feels so good. 




The Joy of receiving. This seems like a no-brainer, right? Admit it, we all like to get stuff. But, most of the gifts that we give each other just take up space. They are given and forgotten. Let me tell you about the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received. 

For years, I carried around, in the cluttered corners of my mind, the idea of a picture of some of my favorite creative people -- my heroes -- George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Jim Henson, Walt Disney and Theodore Geisel (aka Dr Suess). These are men whose work has inspired me, taught me and entertained me. I imagined a composite picture of all of them (gathered together, brainstorming new ways to entertain me, I suppose). But there were some barriers to this becoming a reality. 

First of all, by the time I thought of it, three of the five men were dead -- which made photography unlikely (or, at the very least, not aesthetically pleasing). Therefore, it would have to be a drawing, which brings us to the next problem: I can't draw people. So my idea remained just that -- until Christmas morning, 2001, when I opened up a present from my wife. There, in my hands, was my picture!

I had mentioned to Sharon, years before, this idea of mine -- and thought nothing more about it. But, as it turned out, Sharon thought about it quite a bit. By 2001, Sharon was working with a woman of considerable artistic ability, so she collected pictures of each of my heroes and commissioned (for lack of a better word) her friend to draw this picture for me. 




They tell me I'm a hard person to buy for, which isn't true -- I like everything (for those of you taking notes). But, if you want to move me, it has to come from the heart. I was struck speechless by what I held in my hands that Christmas morning -- which may be the best present that I've ever given to Sharon. I knew, in an instant, all that must have gone in to the creation of this picture. She hadn't just gone to the effort of having the picture drawn and framed, she had taken something that was important to me, and made it important to her -- for my sake. It was the perfect gift. 

I love the picture. It has a prominent place in our home. When I look at it, I think of all that the men in the picture have done, and what it means to me: Jim Henson took a sock puppet, and turned it into a group of the most recognized and beloved characters in the world. Walt Disney is the role model for anyone who has ever had a dream. Lucas and Spielberg have been such a part of my life, that they're practically in my DNA, and Dr. Suess taught me to read and to love words. 

But my first thought is that Sharon cared enough to find a present that would touch my heart. It really is a gift of love. 

Of course, there are gifts and then there are gifts. My wife and kids, and the rest of my family, mean more to me than anything -- with the exception of the greatest gift of all: the gift of a Beloved Son, from a loving Father. 

May you find joy in all that you give, and all that you receive this Christmas.

39 comments:

Jaysi said...

This is truly a beautiful post! What an amazing gift from your wife! I think we all want nothing more than to make our loved ones happy. I agree the true gift of Christmas is our Lord and Savior. He is the gift that continues to give!

Michelle said...

I think that gifts from the heart are the best and Sharon really scored with that painting.

You can't buy that kind of love!

By the way.....I'm only sometimes a not that old softie with my girls. :)

Robyn said...

What a great gift. It reminded me of the baseball card I got my dad one year.

Liz said...

What a great gift and a beautiful post.

utmomof5 said...

Sounds like you have one very cool wife! I wish I could think of a gift like that for my hubby!!

Bren said...

Those gifts from the heart are truly the best ones! I love that story.

CC said...

Wow. What a beautiful gift and beautiful story. The gift of Jesus was truly a gift.

Cecily R said...

Now that is just SO cool. I just love the way you see the world...

Not that he doesn't love all the stuff he's gotten over the years from me and the kids, but I think I've managed that kind of perfect gift only once for Jon in 13 years.

I sent him to SF to see the Niners play. I doubt I'll ever top that one.

Kat said...

Such a beautiful post. A gift that has that much thought and care put into it is just priceless.

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

Beautiful - amazing wife . . .now what to do with all the crappy gifts that we get hugh? Are these the re-gifts?

Lindsay said...

You're an amazing writer. And I completely agree - gifts that come from the heart are the best - I've appreciated that more and more as I've gotten older

Kacey R. said...

What a wonderful and well written post. Sharon really did an awesome job! Thanks for the great reminder of what this season is all about.

Thanks for your words of support on my post! :o) I appreciate it!

Casey's trio said...

What a beautiful post! Sounds like you have a very special wife. Thanks for sharing one of your favorite gifts with us.

Maggie May said...

What a wonderful post. Really enjoyed it.
The painting is great and the best gifts come from the heart.
Well written post.

Moannie said...

I do so agree that the best gifts are those that took thought and time, love and very little money.

Alexandria said...

Absolutely fantastic post Chris. Beautiful, thoughtful and completely true. Giving is much much better than receiving!! And what a lovely picture! It's really nice :D

Straight to Your Hart said...

I love treasures of the heart! What a sweet wife you have. A devine taste of Heaven!

Izzy 'N Emmy said...

Sharon did a great job of finding you the perfect gift. What a great Christmas to remember and thanks for sharing it.

mommaof4wife2r said...

what a great gift!!! and so thoughtful! may you and yours have a very merry and blessed christmas

Jay @halftime lessons said...

Wow...great pics, and I LOVE your header. i'll be back soon!


Nice PhotoStory Friday!!

Jay

PS...do you know that your word verification is on? You can easily turn it off...
I wrote about how to do it here...

Melissa said...

Great post!! I feel the same way...I mean honestly I don't even care about "receiving" gifts; I just love to watch my kids (and others) faces when they are happy & satisfied.... But actually if you think about it-- they may be a selfish thought in itself... I like to see them happy and grateful for what "I" did... oh well, tis the season!!

MomOf3 said...

Every Friday I look forward to what you have posted! That was indeed the perfect gift. You have a wonderful group of heros!

Lorina said...

Wow.. beautiful. I agree.

And my favorite gifts are the ones from the heart.. What a wonderful gift and great wife to boot.

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

She's good!!! What a great present. Beautiful post! And I love that Kermie was included in the picture. :)

ValleyGirl said...

This says it all: "She hadn't just gone to the effort of having the picture drawn and framed, she had taken something that was important to me, and made it important to her -- for my sake. It was the perfect gift."

You have moved me to tears. Would you consider linking this post with my "Reinventing Christmas" blog carnival coming up on Tuesday? This is such a wonderful, heart-warming, from-the-heart, inspiring post. EXACTLY the idea behind "Reinventing Christmas."

Jenners said...

Really beautiful post. And you captured the true spirit of gift-giving. It is hard to do in that inspired way -- like your wife did. And it isn't something we can do everytime. But the feeling for both the giver and the receiver when it is done right is truly what it is all about. That is so much of my problem with all the obligatory gift-giving that goes on around this time -- you can't always find that true meaningful gift all the time and every year. But when it comes , it is sublime and must be appreciated. I am glad you and your wife were blessed in that way!

photomommy said...

That's a lovely, straight from the heart gift. :)

Great post.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

This was so powerful and passionate and I couldn't agree more.

Karin said...

Wonderful post, beautiful written and a very simple yet powerful message at a time when we all need to hear it.

Corey~living and loving said...

you gave me chills. What a beautiful post. I love that your wife went to all that effort. It seems that most of us rush through just trying to "get" something for everyone, that not a lot of thought goes into it. thank you for a true reminder of what it is all about.

scrappysue said...

you have such a gift with writing - ever thought of writing a book???

tommie said...

Chris-your post brought me to tears. I think for a person to be able to listen and know what someone really loves is the ability to find a gift that is loving and touching. What a priceless treasure you have in your life...your wife as well as her gift to know what is important to you!

Thanks so much for visiting my PSF.

Kristen said...

What a beautiful post!!

And what a wonderful wife you have to have thought of that for you!!

Happy PSF, and thank you for the beautiful story!

Kelli @ writing the waves said...

Awesome post. I love sentimental gifts like that. They are the ones that you always remember.

Candy said...

I think it's the HEARTFELT gifts that are the hardest to give.

let me explain.

you first have to have a big heart for that person. you have to KNOW them enough to understand what they love and appreciate. you have to put a lot of thought and effort and compassion into it.

which consequently is sometimes hard to do.

which therefore, could conceivably make someone very hard to shop for.

just sayin...;-)

lisaschaos said...

Wonderfully written! And so accurate! Love the picture too!

CaJoh said...

Reading through your post reminds me of one of my own posts:
Giving and Forgiving. You have shown that the art of giving without expectations is a good thing.

Discursivelyhappy said...

That is awesome. I bet Sharon was just as excited about the gift as you were...to find the "perfect" gift, awesome.

Krystyn said...

How poetic and perfect!

And, it really is special when they listen and go out of their way.

Sharon is a special, special woman.