By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Did you ever find what you thought would be the perfect gift for someone very special in your life? You could hardly wait for them to open it up. Then, when they did, what joy you would have seeing their eyes light up then fill with tears of happiness as they sighed and uttered their thrill with the perfect surprise gift. But that doesn’t happen very much. More often, this special someone, because they are special, puts on a happy face and squeaks out an “oh, wow” which sounds more like the joy one has when the utility bill is less than the month before. This is the kind of measured, quiet joy which doesn’t want to hurt the heart of their sweet, comic Valentine, who has gone once again spent too much money on something strange. The pain does not end there. It comes again when one finds the woebegone gift two years later, unused in the closet of rarely used stuff. Enough of these experiences over the years saps the joy out of shopping for Christmas presents. Pity the parent, lover, or friend who experiences the bleak, mid-winter under the Christmas tree. Come to think of it, this can be rough on the receiver as well, who year after year must rustle up feigned excitement.
But even the blind hog finds an acorn every now and then. Did you ever buy a gift just to “get-her-done”, as Larry the cable guy says? Then that gift turns out to be the proverbial “hit out of the park?” It’s like the wisemen actually ending up in Bethlehem instead of Damascus or Valdosta. When it comes to gift giving, we often follow the wrong star, but then it ends up they actually wanted some frankincense and hoped someone would know that. Oh, wow!
We give all kinds of gifts in life. Some are gifts that the receiver did not ask for or want or need. I’m not necessarily referring to articles but the gifts of action. For example, a hardworking spouse might spend years giving the other income for a spacious home and fancy cars, while all along the other wanted more intimate time and rich conversation. Giving a boy a ball and glove is not the same thing as playing catch after supper.
Some of our gifts are actually needed, desired and welcomed. Those gifts are often time and energy given at a notable sacrifice by the giver. If we have at least four or five people in our lives who have given of themselves to us in that way; then, we are truly fortunate. When we have received the sacrificial gift of the person of the giver, we will look back on our lives as very rich indeed, not necessarily in stuff. But don’t get me wrong. Stuff is good too.
Our better gifts are not just to individual persons in our lives, but to institutions, vocations, and even ideas or convictions we support with our whole being. An example that quickly comes to my mind is the producer and editor of this newspaper. Her sacrificial gift is to Edgefield and the readership and as to me, a writership. Mentoring, healing and teaching in all of their many forms are best gifts. Philanthropy is among the great and necessary gifts. God allows some of us riches to be given away to the higher causes. Woe to the wealthy who don’t realize this.
Two concluding notes: First, in order to give our best gifts, we must give often and a lot. The reason for this is that only one in ten of our gifts are good. One in a hundred are great. We must flood the market to occasionally get it right. Don’t be stingy and expect much in return. Second, the heart is meant to be given away. I realized that this is approaching “Hallmark” corny, but I offer it anyway. Think of someone this Christmas who freely gave you a piece of their heart. And at least good and perhaps even a great gift is to tell them that and to thank them. I mean really thank them. Go into some detail. Make sure they hear how much that piece of heart meant and still means to you. Again, don’t be stingy. Remember those makers of your good memories. You could not have lived well without them.