Gift List

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What comprises the perfect Christmas gift?  Seldom ever do I shop for Christmas presents with the notion that I know what I’m looking to find.  I just go shopping with the intent that: “I will know it when I see it”.  The next caveat is, that of course, I want it to be on sale.  However, that only works if you begin the process early.  To date, I have yet to shop for or purchase anything. Consequently, I would be moving into a potentially high stress week if the General hadn’t already covered all the bases and purchased Christmas presents for us to provide to our family.

 

Despite the fact that I’m off the hook since the gift giving details are all covered, I will eventually make my way to the mall and look for something that strikes my fancy to give as an unexpected special gift(s). Truthfully, from the vantage point of adulthood, the privilege of giving gifts is valued.  I’m sure I saw it differently as a kid, but as an adult I would much rather provide something for someone else than be the recipient.

 

Maybe when it comes to finding that something special, I don’t have a lot of imagination.   My daughter told me she talked with her youngest nephew (my youngest grandson) this week and asked if he had a suggested gift list for himself that he could share with her? Maybe because she previously worked at  Apple, he had products from that store on his list.  Never let it be said that he doesn’t have expensive taste. On the other hand, the kid is really bright.  Maybe he’s figured out his aunt has resources?  Who knows? 

 

One day earlier this week, I made my early morning commute to work in a shroud of silence.  For some reason, the morning didn’t seem compatible with music or the booming voice of a radio talk show host. I opted instead, to drive in a state of contentment listening only to the thought processes of my mind.

 

From out of nowhere, I found myself wondering where the shoebox size blue metal box was that contains the microscope I received for Christmas in 1958.  Trust me, I haven’t thrown it away, but I also don’t remember seeing it recently. 

 

My active interest in science was short lived, but for some reason I’ve chosen to hang on to that microscope for the past 58 years.  As my mind considered the gift of the microscope, I remembered vividly the last voluntary science experiment in which I participated.  I don’t remember specifically what science project I volunteered to demonstrate, but there were three of us involved in the activity.  In addition to myself, there was my twin brother and a friend from school who now coincidentally lives in Dripping Springs.  It was a day in February 1959.  It also was Boy Scout week and the three of us had worn our scouting uniforms to school.

 

Mike, the other participant in the project, had made the discovery walking back to school from lunch.  He really didn’t know what it was, but it looked impressive. From my memory it resembled a tube of lipstick with both a red and yellow wire coming out of one end.  It probably was a group decision, but we knew intuitively that it was an electromagnet.  What other explanation could there be?

 

I don’t remember if we thought we’d impress the class with our scientific prowess, but I do vividly remember the explosion that followed.  At the time, I thought the dry cell battery we were using had exploded.  None of us knew until later that the lipstick like tube with the red and yellow wires was a dynamite cap.  That scientific experiment provided each of us at least a week-long stay in the hospital.  It also ruined three perfectly good Boy Scout uniforms.

 

After my parents were gone, I discovered a box inside a box of things my mother had chosen to keep. In that box was a stack of old letters and get-well cards from members of my sixth grade class. Some of the letters had yellowed with age, but the stack of get-well wishes from decades ago brought a smile to my face.  One very perceptive friend from school wrote: “School doesn’t seem the same without Donnie’s smart brain…” Another wrote: “We miss you very much. It seems strange that you aren’t here to clown for us.”

 

I’d like to suggest that some things don’t change.  I’m still smart and funny; however, most would retort that playing with dynamite really doesn’t seem all that smart.  Actually in thumbing through the stack of letters and get well cards from decades ago, it was easy to reflect back and re-experience the support and words of encouragement all those well-wishers provided.

 

How many people do you know who could benefit emotionally and spiritually from a demonstration of that same kind of simple concern and support?  Isn’t one of the messages of Christmas something to do with a comforter coming to show us the way to life?  Paul wrote:  “He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

 

If somehow we could share the joy and meaning of Christmas by offering words of encouragement and hope to others, it really has to potential to become life changing.  It has something to do with reciprocity.  God first loved us.  We best demonstrate our love for Him when it manifests itself in our loving others.

 

All My Best!

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Don

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