Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Flashback

2001: David and I had moved to Spokane for him to pursue his budding career as a pilot, only to have the events of September 11th take our financial outlook from strained to desperate. We were living out the "for poorer" portion of our marriage vows, wondering if we would ever see the "for richer" side of matrimony.

As December approached, we began to agonize over what we would do for Christmas. In the past we had lavished gifts on each other and on our children. Each carefully selected present was a tangible expression of love wrapped up in festive paper and exchanged with great joy. And every year, the last gift I opened was a bottle of my favorite perfume, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, packaged in the classic gold and silver Nordstrom box and topped with a bright red bow.

But our 2001 Christmas Budget was practically non-existent. There would be no Nordstrom boxes under the tree this year. With heavy hearts, David and I sat down to figure out a plan. We wanted, more than anything, to make sure our boys had a happy Christmas, and so we agreed to spend what money we had on a few gifts for the kids and to forgo buying any gifts for each other. Fortunately, the boys wanted simple things: a basketball (check), a board game (check), and a couple small lego sets (check, check). I crocheted some scarves for my mom and sisters. Our Christmas letter went out without a photo. We skipped buying a tree. We didn't skip a bit of the joy.

The day before Christmas we drove to Portland because we were going to spend the holiday with my parents and with my sister Keri's family. My mom and dad are always very generous gift givers, so the next morning the tree was absolutely buried in presents. David and I realized how silly we had been to even worry that our children might lack a thing! There were many precious moments that morning. My ever-practical brother-in-law had bought each of my boys a nice white dress shirt, knowing that clothes might not delight his two young nephews, but certain that their parents would be blessed by such a sensible gift. My parents renewed our Costco membership, knowing how much we needed it. We all felt completely spoiled.

As the gift opening was winding to a close, Graham spotted a lonely package behind the tree. He grabbed it and read the tag aloud.

"Jennifer Ann. Mom, it's for you. From Dad"

"From my Dad?" I asked, wondering why Graham didn't say "Grandpa."

"No, from David Ross," Graham said, confident in his reading skills, which were just developing at that time, "From MY dad."

As Graham emerged from the back of the tree I saw the gold and silver box in his hands. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes.

With a lump in my throat I quietly croaked, "David, you promised--no gifts for each other--you promised."

I looked up to see that the room--filled with 8 or more children--had gone completely still. My father and sister, hopeless romantics, also wiped tears from their cheeks.

I didn't have to open it to know what it was, but still I slid the bow off and lifted the shiny lid. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist. For years it had been the gift I had taken for granted. For years I had expected it. But in 2001, I had the joy of appreciating its true extravagance for the first time. More tears fell.

In the heavy silence, Graham moved to my side and sought out my eyes. "What's wrong, mom? Don't you like it?" he asked, obviously baffled by my weeping.

"I like it very much," I assured him, laughing between sobs.

Even today a bottle of Donna Karan Cashmere Mist sits on my dresser. I wear it daily, but I no longer spray it on with cavalier indifference. No. I wear it convinced that it is the very fragrance of love.

My husband just couldn't help himself that Christmas. His love for me demands expression in many forms--including the giving of good gifts. Precious gifts, which he lavishes upon me even when he knows he will receive nothing in return. You know what? God's love for me is like that, too.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! 1 John 3:1a

No comments:

Post a Comment