Monday, November 30, 2009

The Best Gift

The following is a true story. I heard it from my DH's oldest sister (and she's a Methodist minister so it has to be true, mostly!) It's about giving love even when the recipient doesn't realize they've received it.

My sister-in-law was in junior high when she was told by the band teacher that she had the perfect embrasure for a clarinet player. So she went home and informed her parents that she needed a clarinet.

My DH's family was not wealthy. They had 8 kids on a small family farm. His mother worked as a cook at the local highschool and his dad drove a schoolbus to bring in a little extra cash. Even so, my sister-in-law didn't realize the enormity of what she was asking. After talking the matter over, my DH's parents admitted they'd saved a bit because they were planning to buy a clothes dryer (something I would rank as a necessity with such a big family!) Instead, they'd use that money to buy the clarinet. They found a 2nd-handed one for $200. It was chronically flat and the entire band had to tune to that instrument, but my sister-in-law learned to play and love music with it. And so did her younger sister. And later, her daughter.

And my SIL didn't realize until she was an adult with her own kids' laundry to wash the incredible size of this gift. Hanging clothes out on a line is no light chore, especially during a northern Iowa winter. But her parents were willing to make the choice so their child's spirit could be nourished with music. That clarinet was sacrifical love with a reed attached.

Like my SIL, we often don't recognize the enormity of the gifts we receive. As a Christian, I'm looking forward to celebrating the greatest gift ever given. This year, I hope to take miracle of Christmas deeper into my soul and be thankful as never before for that gift.

Oh, and here's the rest of the clarinet story! You're gonna love it. Just before Christmas, my DH's dad won the grand prize at the local hardware store. You guessed it. A brand new clothes dryer.

Wishing you the gift of love this Christmas!

Today is the LAST DAY TO ENTER my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST . On December 1st, one lucky person will win a $100 gift card just in time for Christmas shopping. I'll announce the winner right here on my blog tomorrow.

Enter today and good luck!

What's the best gift you've ever given or received?


Christie Craig said...

A beautiful story, Emily.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Caroline said...

Loved your Christmas story, Emily! Thanks for sharing....

I think the best gift given were to my two sons. Two adorable kittens....They loved them for years!

Barbara Wallace said...

A beautiful story. I can't say I personally have such a great story - but I can tell you the story from our local giving tree.

One year a recent widow called up to say she wanted to donate to the giving tree in honor of her recently passing husband, and she wanted to adopt a local family. The program chair gave them the name of a single mother with teenagers. The woman was battling serious health problems and recently unemployed. They were in really tough straights. The family, as do so many of them, gratefully asked for clothes, grocery gift cards, etc.

The woman turned around and gave them, not just those items, but bought the teenagers a brand new XBox 360 with all the games and trimmings! Plus she bought hundreds of dollars worth of clothes for the kids and the mother - they were inundated with gifts that morning.

Apparently the widow's husband grew up dirt poor and never had Christmas as a kid. As an adult, he made a great deal of money and promised Christmas would always be a big deal in his house. He believed in making sure kids got to be kids on Christmas morning. The widow wanted to honor his memory by keeping that tradition alive.

I always wondered what that family thought when Christmas morning came and their tree was overflowing. And I always thought that the widow (who stayed anonymous) not only paid tribute to her late husband, but embodied the spirit of Christmas.

EmilyBryan said...

Christie and Caroline! Thanks so much for stopping by.

They always say not to give pets at Christmas because it's such a hectic time and the animal might not receive the attention it needs at such a crucial bonding time. But it certainly sounds like those kittens got the love they needed, Caroline!

EmilyBryan said...

Barbara--Your story made me cry. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Sandy said...

Aww, what a wonderful story. I have always believed that God works in wonderous ways.

EmilyBryan said...

I think winning the dryer was such an unmistakable touch from God. There's no doubt in my mind that the clarinet is the reason they won it.

Jane L said...

Oh! Stories like these bring tears to my eyes! What a great Christmas blessing!

I have a great kid story. Years ago when our son was five, he is now 23, my husband was in his same line of work, but times were slow and we didnt have much money with three small kids at home and a new mortgage and one income family.

So we were at the grocery store right before Christmas, checking out and my son noticed the big box with food donations was empty. Well the store had just emptied it.

So he came back to us as we were packing our last groceries and he was crying. My husband asked him what was wrong and he said, "There's no food or candy for the poor children." Pointing to the box, no matter how we explained it to him, he was sure there was no food for them, so my husband said ok, lets go get something to put in the box.

My son grabbed a basket and ran ahead of my husband filling it, with as much as his little arms could carry and brought it up to the counter, it came to 54.00 total, I looked at my husband just sick to my stomach, as he paid the cashier the last money we had until next pay day which was another week away!
But the smile on our little boys face was priceless! He often talks about how he "FILLED" the box with food at five and we laugh and tell him how broke we were and seriously could have probably used the donation box ourselves to get enough food to feed our family!

He is still genenerous to this day, he buys for Toys for Tots and giving trees and such! So maybe it was worth it!

LuAnn said...

The greatest gift I ever received is something you can't buy.
When I split up with my ex-husband, it was like being let loose from prison. He was a controlling monster in many ways. The worst was he kept me from my family for a number of years. I couldn't speak or see my mother or my two older sisters.
After I was free from him, the first call I made was to my oldest sister Lori. Even though we hadn't spoken in years, she recognized my voice and was so happy to hear from me. She said she knew we would someday be back together.
Well, about a month later Christmas came around and I took my two teenage children over the mountains to spend Christmas at Lori's house. We had a wonderful time and she made sure my kids had a few gifts to unwrap. Lori was always a Christmas person. She loved that holiday and went out of her way to be sure all were happy.
Unfortunately, that was the last Christmas any of us got to spend with Lori. She died of leukemia the following summer. None of us knew at the time -- including her -- that she was in the final stages of a rare form of that cancer.
I will always be thankful I had that last Christmas with my dear sister. Someone was obviously watching out for us and made sure we had that final, special holiday together.

EmilyBryan said...

Jane L--Bless you for raising such a sweet, giving son! Lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

EmilyBryan said...

LuAnn--I'm so glad you managed to break free from such a controlling, dangerous relationship. Two of my sisters experienced something similar with their first husbands. It's a difficult way to live.

And I'm so happy you were able to reconnect with your sister and celebrate Christmas with her before she left this world. She sounds like a wonderful person and so are YOU!

Hope you're making plans for a Merry Christmas.

Unknown said...

Wow, that was the PERFECT Christmas story!! I can't get into the holiday mood w/o a D. Macomber holiday book. LUV her angel books!!My best gift EVER was my daughter on Dec. 22nd. I spent Christmas in the hospital but she was worth it. I was 36 & 1/2 at the time and she's my one and only. I still thank God for blessing me with one child. She was 2 & 1/2 months early but she's my perfect miracle baby. Happy Holidays to you and yours!! Thanks, Sue

EmilyBryan said...

Sue--Now that's a precious stocking stuffer! Thanks for sharing about your Christmas baby. I too enjoy Debbie Macomber's Christmas stories. She really knows how to touch hearts. I enjoy her knitting books too, even though I couldn't knit if I had a third hand.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Awesome story!

And then I read all the comments and they were all just as touching. So glad I came by.

I'm currently laid off (doing okay on a budget) but have donated some time and will donate some more, along with my kids so they can learn the gift of giving, too.

Merry Christmas everyone!

EmilyBryan said...

Oh, Stacey, I so empathize with you. In 2003, we had an unemployed Christmas and it was very frugal, which is not saying it was bad. I really kept expecting jobs would come as our gift that year, but they didn't. Fortunately, we had an emergency savings and you'd be surprised how much fun you can have on a budget. A walk with the one you love, making Christmas decorations and gifts, going caroling, lots of wonderful things don't cost much at all.

Then there was the very lean Christmas when we sold our class rings to buy gifts for the kids. Funny I don't remember feeling deprived.