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At one of our Christmas gatherings recently (yes, we actually still have one more to go…), I marveled at one of the conversations that took place in my Aunt Edie's kitchen:
My mom: (as my dad reaches for the last two deviled eggs) “Would you mind saving those for Russell? He really likes them.”
Me (interrupting): “Really? Hmmm…we’ve been married for almost thirteen years now and I’m just not remembering that he loves deviled eggs for some reason.”
My mom: “Yea, yea – I make them for him every Christmas.”
Me: “Hmmm…really? I dunno.”
My mom: “Well, the plate is always empty. I’m pretty sure. Yea, for sure.”
A few minutes later, the mysterious deviled-egg-lover in question (aka Russell) walks into the kitchen to get some grub. Then, this conversation takes place:
Me: “Hey babe, how 'bout a couple of deviled eggs to add to your plate of goodies?”
Russell: “Um, well, um…so what exactly is in the mixture in the middle?”
Me: “Oh, you know, egg yolks, mustard, mayo…yummy stuff like that.”
Russell: “Um, sure…I guess I’ll, um, try one.”
Me: “You’ll TRY one?!”
Russell: (so polite, that guy) “Yea, I’ve never actually had a deviled egg before, but I’ll try one.”
Me: (busting out laughing) “Oh mercy! Mom’s been making these deviled eggs especially for you all these years and you’ve never even had one! I love it!”
All the family members who were in on this little interaction basically fell on the floor with laughter. It was a wonderful family memory! (If you’re wondering, Russell DOES like deviled eggs…NOW, after trying them for the first time. AND, the mystery is solved – my DAD has enjoyed his plate-full of deviled eggs each and every Christmas – ha ha!).
BUT, (as I got back up off the floor), I realized that what I enjoyed most of all was witnessing the love found in the giving. Year after year, my mom lovingly made the eggs just for Russell because she truly thought he enjoyed them. She wanted to bring him joy. The love was in the GIVING, because she obviously never really knew if he ate them or not! hee hee
On another completely different (yet similar) note, I’m sure that most of us have been approached in a parking lot by someone asking for money? This can be a complicated situation. First of all, it can be kinda scary if it’s just you and the kiddos. We all know that our MPM (Mama Protection Mode) kicks in and we just want to get the heck out of that parking lot and drive to our “safe place.” But, secondly, we might start the skeptical thought-process of, “What in the world is he/she gonna use this money for?”
It’s easy to go down that path of, “Well, I just bet they’ll use it for drugs, alcohol, or some other nasty habit. I bet they do this for a living...begging for money. They just need to get a J-O-B!” The inner dialogue can go on and on really. Then, we might hand over a couple bucks (or not) and feel disgusted for the rest of the day thinking about how they used that money.
The above scenario might certainly be true. They might buy all of the stuff we told ourselves they would. OR, we might hand over a few dollars and tell them to pay it forward or even that God loves them or something along those lines. WHAT IF our kind gesture was a turning point in their life? WHAT IF they never forget that moment? WHAT IF that man or woman was the face of Jesus? “Whatever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” Matthew 25:40
Hmmm…we may never know how our gift will be used. But, it does feel better to leave a situation feeling love in our giving, rather than complete and utter cynical disgust at our giving.
A few more thoughts - Have you ever purchased a gift for someone through the Giving Tree at church? Have you ever sent someone a present in the mail, but didn’t get to see them open it? Have you ever had something delivered to someone anonymously? Prime examples of love in the giving. And, when we give and expect absolutely NOTHING in return…even sweeter. Gifts with strings attached aren’t technically…gifts.
Oh, this is a fun one - have you ever rang a bell on purpose just so an angel would get its wings? (Yes, George Bailey, I’m proud to say that we did this many times over the last month!) How can we know that what they told us in the 1946 classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is really true? We won’t know…just yet. But, honestly, our family found much love in the giving.
The other day, I was talking to our priest and he made a very good point. Father Bentil said that priests plant seeds during their homilies. They don’t always see immediate results or response like in other fields of work, and sometimes that’s difficult. But, they nevertheless continue planting seeds and in time, those seeds of faith will grow. There is love in the giving. And, for this, I thank and pray for priests, and all who minister to others in their parishes and communities.
What is the greatest example of “love in the giving?” “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Love was born at Christmas and I couldn’t be more grateful for that gift.