I woke up that birthday morning, and my husband and children had gone out and gotten a few things for me. Things were tight at the time, so I had already implored my husband not to get me anything or at very least not go crazy – he’s a giver, so that is a tall order.
After much ceremony, I was presented with a large box, two cards, and a small watercolor painting wrapped in ribbon with lovely earrings hanging between the layers. My youngest had made the painting and wrapped the earrings – her card was an “award” for being the best mom (Oh, you got one too? I won’t tell if you don’t.) The other card was from my husband and son – sweet and lovely. The box was carefully wrapped – inside were a bunch of smaller wrapped presents. I started with the smallest ones. They gave me a planner filled with encouraging bible verses, a pen set embossed with the words “Teach,” “Love,” “Inspire,” face masks for an at-home spa experience, mascara, Brookside dark chocolate acai & blueberry treats and then the pièce de ré·sis·tance, a bright blue tea kettle. Each gift was more wonderful than the next – each gift belied the hidden truth that they had been watching me intently enough to show that cared about the little things with their choices. I squealed with delight over the kettle – hugging it like a daft maniac.
All the while, my husband sat quietly in the corner, hiding his glumness behind a wry smile, trying to mask his feeling that the presents weren’t enough. He couldn’t have been more wrong. The earrings were picked out with care – simple and understated – just my style. The paintings were designed and crafted with love from gifts they had only just received at Christmas. The messages in each of the cards were written with love. About five days before, I almost bought a planner for the new year but decided against it so that I could use the money for something for the kids. The pens – well, I had been a teacher, and I LOVE pens – plus these were special metal pens embossed with the words, Teach ~ Love ~ Inspire. The mascara was totally appreciated and a huge surprise. I don’t wear makeup often. The last time I had worn it, I had to throw it out because my eye became itchy and inflamed. The masks were for me to pamper myself. One would think chocolate needs no reason, but these chocolates were dark chocolate – my favorite AND they were nostalgic – a brand and type I used to buy when the kids were small as a treat. Finally, when I had made my way to the largest gift, I had no idea what it would be. I ripped off the paper and squealed with delight – nestled inside was the kettle.
My husband thought I was playing up my reaction as I sat laughing, tears streaming down my face, hugging the kettle to my chest. It took a while to convince him of my delight. He could not fathom the idea that anyone could get that excited by a kettle. My youngest daughter bubbled over with a blow-by-blow explanation of how many stores they had gone to, to find just the right one. If you’ve ever read my blog before, you know how I feel about tea. I had been boiling water in a small pot on the stovetop for ages – since my last kettle sprung a leak. That kettle had been crap – just an open spout and plastic handle. This one was perfection. Immediately, I washed it up, filled it with water, and waited.
The whistle’s serenade brought fresh tears – I’m getting maudlin in my old age! The familiar whistle informed so much of my formative years. It signaled a time to wake up, the last conversation before we parted, a rest in the day, a welcome home, a comforting respite, an evening meal, a moment to spend with someone I loved. The whistle reminds me of home. The whistle reminds me of Mom – who I miss so much around my birthday because that was the season she lay dying in the hospital. The season when our tea-time stopped. Here I was flooded with the happiest of memories for my birthday. It had a similar effect on my children. In the last two weeks, the kettle has been singing repeatedly, intermittently, wonderfully throughout each day – the present was a success.
Like the child who gave his small lunch to Jesus, the impact of the gift was amplified by the spirit of the giver. It doesn’t take a ton of money or lavish gifts to show someone the depth of your love – just a sharp eye, a considerate spirit, and a heart to care about the small stuff.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much,…” Luke 16:10
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” John 6:9