Guest Post by local blogger Amber Haines, therunamuck.com
When my husband and I first heard of friends who had given Christmas gifts without spending money, who gave relational gifts of service and time instead, we struggled. Though we had been looking for contentment and wanting our family to make changes to better our world, their example had summoned us to think harder, to pay more attention, and to make love the true goal of our gift-giving, and that is not the easy way to give gifts.
After a life-changing trip to Africa my husband, Seth, decided we would follow our friends’ example. Instead of spending money on material things, we would give memorable, relational gifts and put our money toward the work that needs to done in Mozambique. I pouted but complied.
What I learned is when gift-giving becomes a heart matter, the most special gifts are the ones that took the giver’s talents, time, and special attention to the recipient. My special talent happens to be list-making (don’t laugh), so this year I gave Seth a hand-made booklet titled, “What I Want to Do with You in 2009: a year-long To Do List for Seth and Amber.” Each page of the booklet signified what fun thing we would do for that month. Examples are to go fly-fishing and to go on a long Arkansas drive looking for photo opportunities. Everything on that list centered on his interests. It was proof that I know him, and I think he’ll continue to feel loved by it all year.
I think Seth is a talented visionary, able to initiate others to do greater things, so for Christmas, I became the recipient of The Mother Letter Project. He asked a few women to write a letter of encouragement to a mother, because I am a SAHM of 3 boys who were born in 3 years. He thought he might turn out a small pamphlet of letters – which would have floored me, but his gesture of love toward me was so well-taken by the blogging community that I received a book of over 600 letters from all over the world. These letters speak to the invisible part of me, to who I am as a mother, and I can only read them through blurry mascara and with a heart of gratitude. This gift will last me and hundreds of other women a life-time of encouragement.
Showing that you know someone is a gift within itself, so feel challenged this year, and this Valentine’s Day, to give from true love. Some gifts, especially the intangible ones, are gifts that say I know and love your heart by giving my time, attention, and talents. The monetary costs are low and the relational benefits high – because the free gift of true love is, of course, the very best gift to receive.
From Amber’s ‘About’ page: I am a southern woman who loves poetry, Jesus, my husband, and huge family. I try to write about growing in faith while being a Mama of three small boys (born within three years). I took a break two years into my MFA in Poetry so I could birth some babies. There have been no signs pointing back to those workshops, so I feel perpetually unfinished, and yet the study is somehow better now.