I am here sitting on the couch in front of the white Christmas tree. The one with the hand made Christmas balls and photo frames from the girls years of growing up. Everyone is in bed and I have nearly all the lights off in the house and am just looking at the tree with it's white lights and splashes of color coming from the ornaments. I'm seeing what thoughts enter my head as I contemplate Christmas now only five days away.
It occurs to me as I think of the girls that I wish I could give the gift of happiness to each one of them this year. It seems funny to me that I would think of this because I think they all are happy. I'm not sure that it is the gift that they need right at the moment. At least they seem happy much of the time.
Each one of them certainly has their stresses and concerns and has to work individually to fulfill their various needs: physical mental and spiritual. Just like all of us. I don't even want to take that away. I want them to have to work and struggle, realizing that will build strength for them and help them in life.
Then why do I wish that I could give them happiness? Am I unhappy, am I projecting my own unhappiness on each of them wishing that they could be happier than I am or some such thing? I don't think so. I feel happy, at least adequately so. I am pleased with what is happening in my life and feeling like plenty of good is coming out of my life and it seems like plenty of good is coming from their lives as well. Sure they have things to learn and plenty to do to grow in life. Experiences to have, people to love and maturity to be gained. Sure they each have quirks that may need conquering and things they could be doing to better themselves, but I am pleased with them and with each one of their efforts to grow and to recognize and approach and achieve their potential.
I really enjoy giving them gifts in hopes of surprising them and finding something that is helpful and meaningful to them. My ideal gift would be one that both said "I love you so much that I have paid attention and realized this was something that you would like" and says to them "I observe you and understand you and this gift will help you see yourself more clearly". I would like my gifts to give insight, comfort, strength or happiness to them. Something to open their eyes to see themselves more clearly. Maybe what I really want is to help those I love see themselves as I do that they are good and loved and to have happiness and confidence result for a time.
As I look back I think of things I have given as presents in the past and there are two things I have given repeatedly and realize I will be giving again this Christmas as well. Two things that I believe are symbolic to the receivers if they will open their eyes and minds to get the symbolism.
What are those things you ask? I give hearts which of course symbolize love and acceptance and I give blankets which symbolize warmth and comfort. Maybe those are the things I have found that most closely match my desire to tell others what I think and how I feel for them. I don't necessarily feel that is all I want to give but those two things I find giving over and over. Ask my wife how many hearts she has in her collection, or maybe my daughters how many blankets they have received over the years. Do they know my feelings about these things? Do they see beyond the thing to the symbol and know it's meaning as I give it to them and my hopes for them? Do they realize that I believe that as they are warm and loved that they are free to be happy and to embrace life more fully, even it's challenges and hurts?
Well, realistically they will read this and know, but the real question is will they feel? Over time they will, I believe. It may not be now, but as they grow and especially if they have their own children then they will begin to see and feel what I see and feel about them and they will better understand my desire to give them happiness through giving them love and warmth.
Needless to say the best way I can give this to them as a gift isn't with the blankets or the heart shaped things, but rather those are only symbols and reminders. I really have to give it to them by example, by showing them how to love and be loved, by showing them how to be warm toward others and to allow themselves to be warmed and comforted. I hope I am doing that adequately, I think I am.
I hope they can be...not so much what I want them to be...not even so much what they want to be...but I hope they can find their way to be what God has for them to be and I hope they will not settle for anything less. And though I anticipate my example will have failures and at other times will do great good for them and that my symbols as gifts will at times be misunderstood and/or lost, I hope they will nonetheless find their way to seeing their true value and strengths and weaknesses as God sees them so they can fully realize their identity as not just my children but as His children--Children of God.