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.