Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gift Giving

I was watching TV the other day when this commercial for eBay caught my eye. Commercial What grabbed my attention was the way that they girl declares how unhappy she was with the gifts that she got from the previous year's Christmas. She wants people to know just what it is that she wants and really is not going to accept anything less than her heart's desire. She sounds like an echo of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with her chorus of, "I WANT IT NOW!"

The thing that gets me is her perception on gifts. A gift is something from the giver without the receiver making demands on what the gift should be. For me to give a gift requires me to think about the person to whom this gift will be given. Things to consider are what they do in life, what their talents are, what their likes and dislikes are and so on. But when it comes down to it when we give a gift to someone else we are giving a part of ourselves to that other person, even if it is a throw pillow to compliment all of the other pilowa that were made in the past. And a gift that is handmade really is a gift that is of ourselves because we took the time to actually labor over it. We put our hard work, for the love of the other person, into that gift.

I think that we've let our views on gifts become so convoluted and manipulated by the media and especially big businesses that we've lost the meaning of what a gift really means. Something special has given way to "more is better". You see this a lot in the Christmas commercials that are on TV with the idea that if we can buy more, then we can give more and then, and only THEN, we will have a wonderful Christmas.

What if we all just gave one special gift to the ones who are dear to us? Would the fact that it was just one gift ruin the holiday for them, for us? What if you received a gift that was uniquely thought of, made, purchased, for you and you alone? Would you appreciate it more or less?

The promises of "Wonderful Christmases Now!" come with bills due in January where we find ourselves working overtime the rest of the year to pay for the Christmas behind us. Is that really worth it? Is that the true sentiment behind gift giving? Or have we become indentured servants to a false spirit of the season?

One of the most poignant Christmas stories that I've ever read, and sadly is never really retold this time of year, is O.Henry's The Gift of the Magi. And if you don't know this story then shame on you or at least shame on the school you went to when you were younger. In a nutshell the story centers on a young married couple who have very little money with which to buy a Christmas gift for each other. The wife wants to buy a chain for her husband's pocket watch and the only way that she can come up with the money is to sell her long beautiful hair, which she does and then buys the chain. The husband knows that his wife's hair is stunningly gorgeous with it's long flowing locks and so he decides to sell the only thing he has of worth; his watch, and buy some ornate combs to adorn his wife's beautiful coif.

The moment comes to give their gifts and then they see what the other has done to come up with the money to buy the gift which they are receiving. It's a poignant moment as the true gifts that were given were the gifts of themselves and the sacrifice that each one made for the other.

O. Henry ends the story with the following:
The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the new-born King of the Jews in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. In a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as donors they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.

My prayer for you this Christmas 2011 is that the gifts that you give are truly of yourselves and that the gifts you receive, no matter what they are, are received with joy and thanks. May God bless you all and may the gift of Jesus Christ be seen and received by all!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Really a Small World!

So my last post was about a woman that I noticed at WalMart after church this last Sunday. Well, we must run in similar circles because I literally bumped into her while I was running errands today. I had to get some things done early this morning and was out and about doing them and I was trying to get them done quickly. As I was rounding a corner I was looking in the opposite direction and I bumped into a person and we both found ourselves knocked flat on our keisters. At first I was in shock as to what happened and then it dawned on me as to what I had done and I felt so bad about it. Luckily she was laughing and actually apologizing as she was looking the opposite direction of where she was going too. Funny that!

Well, as I was clambering to my feet I noticed a Fish tattoo above her right ankle and then I shot a look at her feet (she was wearing flip flop type sandals) and I saw her flaky heels. But before I could flash back to the image of her beauty crumbling this past Sunday morning she said, "I am SO sorry about that. Are you alright?" And it snapped me out of my mental rewind and I told her that it was all my fault as I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. She started to laugh and confessed that she was doing the same thing. I really felt bad about my carelessness in my walking about and wanted to make it up to her and since it was 8:30 in the morning I offered to buy her a cup of coffee. She hesitated at first but then said that she was actually heading to a place for breakfast and asked me if I wanted to make it up to her by buying her the most important meal of the day. I said yes.

We headed to a diner that was two stores down and got a booth by a window. She ordered scrambled eggs and bacon and I got poached eggs and corned beef hash. Then we got to talking and about our "bumping" into each other and got a great chuckle over it. She said that I looked familiar to her and I said I don't believe that we'd ever met, however, I did let her know that I was at WalMart the other day and was behind her online. She asked how I remembered her and I said that I had noticed her Fish tattoo and then saw it this morning as we were getting to our feet. She blushed and gave a low moan when I mentioned the tattoo.

She said that she'd done that after her divorce 9 years ago as a sign that she was able to do as she pleased after being in a marriage to a very suffocating and controlling husband. She then went into what she had been through and how she was just getting her life back together and was looking to get back into dating but wasn't having any luck as "all of the good ones seemed to be already taken". And I told her that perhaps not all of them were, and then shot her a playful smile. She coyly smiled back at me and we proceeded to start a somewhat flirtatious dialog.

Perhaps it was because we were sitting at a table and I could not see her cracked flaky heels that had me giddy in playful banter with an attractive women. I mean every time I looked down all I saw were plates of eggs and breakfast meats, not heels crying out for pampering attention. I went with the flow and it seemed that we had some real chemistry and the next thing that I noticed was that we were holding hands across the table and it's been quite sometime since I've held the hand of a beautiful woman. I guess she was feeling a bit adventurous and able to express herself as she had never been able to do before. And it was this adventurousness that started the house of cards to come tumbling down because she decided to play footsie with me. I was wearing shorts and felt her toes start to run up my ankle as she had taken her foot out of her flip flops. It felt good and I have to admit that I really liked it. I liked it until her heel scraped my shin to which I flinched and sent my knee slamming up into the table knocking the carafe of coffee every which way.

The waitress came over quickly and cleaned the mess up and my breakfast companion asked me why I flinched. What could I say? I had to be honest and I swore that if I had ever met her before that my curiosity would get the better of me and it did now, throbbing knee and all. So I asked her what the deal was with her cracked, flaky heels. And when the words had left my mouth, hanging above our heads like a cartoon balloon, her face drained of all color and turned deathly pale. "How could you ask such a question?", she said. I was dumbfounded.

"I thought that you were different! I thought that you cared! You're just like all of the rest!" And then she reached down and grabbed a handful of scrambled eggs and flung them into my face and got up and stormed out, flaky heels and all. And me? Well I was left there with egg on my face.

Ah, none of this happened today. All I did today was get a haircut.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

From Soup to Nuts

I saw something today whilst at WalMart that made me stop and go, "Hm?". I was standing in line behind an attractive lady and since I am single and not dead yet I gave her a quick top-to-bottom once over with my eyes. She had a pretty face with a stylish hairdo, bright eyes and an inviting smile. Her clothes were chic in a way that said that she doesn't need to spend top dollar on her duds but knows how to make them look worth a lot. She wore them well. And I liked the fact that she was wearing a skirt, knee length, that was light an airy. I just love when a woman wears a skirt. Too many are married to pants and pants alone. Boring IMHO.

She had decent legs and was sporting a Fish tattoo in the style of the Greek letter Alpha that is symbolic of Christ. I thought, "Nice a Christian woman with a sassy edge to her." She finished her ensemble with some stylish sandals with a bit of a lift. Her toes were well pedicured, which I have to admit that I find attractive and her toenails matched her fingernails(added bonus). However, as I looked at her whole foot I noticed that her heels were dry, cracking and flaky. The whole image came crashing down right then and there as I heard the WalMart cashier ask her if she wanted to apply for a WalMart credit card. She declined by the way.

I couldn't understand why a woman would go through almost every effort to make every part of her appearance radiate beauty, fashion, and style but overlook something as gross as her heels. I equate that with brushing only the teeth that people see when you smile; your incisors and canines but letting your molars go untouched. Maybe she thought that no one would notice and she didn't have the time nor the moisturizing lotion to take care of business. I know that I've had the occasion where my fly was down without me knowing until it was pointed out to me. I felt embarrassed for a moment or two but then realize that these thing happen. However, it's not like I left the Mens room with the thought, "I am kind of tired right now. Too tired to zip up my fly. I am leaving it the way it is." No, I've never had a thought like that. It just happened.

Am I being unfair? Maybe. Yes, I know that that woman is more than her appearance but let's be honest, our appearances do matter and make a difference one way or another, at least first impressions do. I am sure that the women is a nice person and interesting and maybe I will get to know her someday. And if I ever do get that chance I am the type of person who would have to know what the deal is with her heels. Shallow on my part? Perhaps. But my curiosity would get the better of me.

Anyway, that was my interesting moment of the day. Wonder what tomorrow will bring.