The Gift

Once, I was a young girl riding home from Thanksgiving festivities with my family from New Jersey, six hours away from my coastal Virginia home. Red and green and gold and glittered gifts stacked high in the trunk– not far away enough from curious kids and their crafty fingers. My brother and I– — stealthily– steadily– slowly– pulled the paper off the gifts, spying on what they could be. Already, though, the paper was peeling off the gift of my grandma: though she was a truly lovely soul, she was not an adept gift wrapper. Nearly every year we knew what she had gotten us before the sun rose high on Christmas morning. I remember the last gift she gave me: squished into haphazard wrapping with my name scrawled on a label– a brown-bear throw pillow. I was 13 when she left us for heaven. She embarked on her eternal adventure while I was in the room with her, waiting for my grandfather to bring back pizza. My aunt whispered to me, “What a gift she gave you.” Her life was a gift to those who knew her and loved her. All of our lives can be a gift to those who know us and love us. And this year as I was writing the labels to my own Christmas gifts, I blinked back tears, thinking: that one day perhaps when the seconds slide into minutes, minutes– days, days– weeks, weeks– months, months–years–there may be fewer tags to write and fewer gifts to wrap. And so now maybe the greatest gift I can give to those I love isn’t necessarily a present but presence: living fully alive in each moment I have with them. Let your prayers cover those who grieve this Christmas and let your arms wrap around the people who are here now.

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