The past week, I have had my head down and working like a crazy girl to put cookies in the freezer, to go grocery shopping, to put the last touches on decorations with a deadline in mind! My Joy is the first to come home and I don't want to have anything to do that will compete with our time to just be together, fall apart, giggle, eat and enjoy the precious time that we will have together.
I am frantically preparing food for 7-10 of us for 10 days so I won't have to cook much while they are here. There are stockings and little stuff to buy--their favorite are the stockings! The Shepherd's meal for Christmas Eve, must be shopped for and cooked. The snowball cookies, oatmeal scotties, Hello Dollies and sugar cookies in all shapes with thick frosting--all will be expected. The hot drinks. The homemade meals.
So, in busyness I prepare.
But, really, there is one favorite gift that I can't buy, but will cost me a lot--that all of the kids want more than anything, but no one remembers to ask for.
So, I concentrate at times, on the peripheral--those outward expressions of my life art, knowing that my best gift to them is mostly what is longed for and needed.
What they really want.......the very favorite gift of all, is me--
ALL OF ME!
It is the one thing I forget to place into my schedule yet requires the most concentrated time. I have undervalued this gift in terms of gift-giving.
It takes more time than all the shopping, baking, cooking, washing dishes, decorating, wrapping.
As my children all invade my life, and come home for family time, it is the same thing they want since they were littles--me!
It is mama they long for, and no one else will fit the bill, because we are the bestest and closest of friends--and no one else will fill the mama-shaped vacuum.
They want me to listen. They want me to be their friend. They want me to sit, talk, watch a movie with them, focus on their needs, laugh at their stories, cry or sympathize with their pain.
My children come home for me and all the love they cannot receive from someone else.
They want my counsel and prayer and all that they have learned to look for in my heart. It is the most important investment I ever made--to give them my heart.
They want my approval. They want me to laugh at their jokes, marvel at their stories, show sympathy to the injustices or failures in their lives. They want a real person who will invest and refuel their emotional tank.
No substitute gift can take the place of me. Personal friendship and close companionship is a far greater desire and heart need than anything else I could ever provide. And all it costs me is my time, my focussed attention, my heart, my love.
No bills will come forward because what they want, I must give now, at the moment. And, now, I am so very glad it is me they want! But evaluating this into time in my schedule and even more important, into my heart's willingness to give, is a choice I make, a priority I plan for.
This giving of self means, though I will not get everything else done, but I have to stop the doing to give the caring. I will never finish my lists--but I must decide ahead of time. I must put aside my unfinished ideals of what I thought I would get accomplished and understand that a happy mama is what they long for.
And so when they want me, I have planned that they will find my giving of myself generous in all the ways they longed for and truly wanted. Time is short and now is the moment to give my focussed love.
All children who have ever been loved and cherished by their mothers long for time with their very own mama! To be home is to be with mama (and of course Dad, too.)
But it is true of all the seasons I have been a mom--my children have always wanted me--not just my service that cares for their needs, but my heart that gives them my unconditional love.
As wives and mothers, we give gifts of our true selves to our families each day--or at least we should. When the milk is spilled, do we give the gift of acceptance and patience? When our husband comes home tired after an extremely long day, do we give the gift of listening and looking into his eyes, so he knows we truly care? Do we give our children the gift of a quick hug as they walk by? Or a butterfly kiss? Or a back-rub? Sometimes these are the same gifts we would like to receive! Just to know somehow our lives matter. And then there are the hours and hours of sitting on a wee one's bed to listen, to enjoy--not to wish away. Or the long talks at midnight with the older ones (why does this not happen at 7:00 in the evening?) or the little pitter-patter of feet when the sun is hardly up, of a child looking for his favorite--the mama!
Even as the gift Jesus gave us was Himself, His time, attention, love, teaching, encouragement, and it cost Him Himself, so it is the best gift we have to offer.
So, when they look for me, they must need to find the Christ in me. The one who loved, washed feet, fed thousands, gave his time and love and words of affirmation and then gave the ultimate--his life for ours. This is what they want and need this Christmas. It is something we can all afford to give and the gift without which none of the others will have meaning.
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