Tag Archives: notice

Does the Thought Really Count?

Does the thought really count?

Every year, around the time when eggnog slides its way into the refrigerator section at Kroger there hangs this huge black cloud. We have to detail a list of every gift we must purchase. We have to go dust off our puffy coats and slip on comfortable shoes and head out to wait in long lines, push and shove to get the best deals and in the end to get all our Christmas shopping completed. And then once we finish our list with just a few people left…you know those people that you don’t have a clue what to get them and so we hastily snag a few gift cards…”I saw them listen to music once…I’ll get them an iTunes gift card.” That is the extent of our thought. Slowly big box merchandisers and us, begging like little slobbery puppy dogs, have created a gift giving process that is about as enjoyable as eating your crazy aunts fruitcake.

There is no longer any thoughtfulness or delight in our process of gift-giving.

Gift giving should be loving and romantic. It should be a mere taste test of the generosity and care we extend in the rest of the year. The act of giving is rich, real and robust. Providing delightful things to another human being is a way of considering and noticing what delights them. It teaches us how to be human.

But instead, we give out of obligation, even guilt at times. And with our ever-widening need to attain more “friends”, the quality of our gifts become cheap and tawdry. Our culture stains expectations on us about the code of giving. “If someone gives to you, you must give something back to them.” Giving has morphed into a speedy transaction. It’s like telling someone you love them just because you want to hear it back. Even if we say we don’t, we create lists in our heads of who gave us the best presents and who gave you some dinky little potholder that they made.

Really?

Growing up I always heard my mom say that the best gifts are the handmade ones. “No they aren’t mom!” I would chant, “the best gifts are the ones that spin, twirl, turn on and off, can make you fly…” Now that I’ve grown a bit I’ve noticed the truth in what she was saying. Handmade gifts really are the best gifts. And you know why? Because the giver had to think of what to make you, go buy the supplies and think about you as they made that dinky little potholder. What’s the main ingredient? Heart!

Gifts do not surprise anymore. All presents have become the same junk just in different colors.

When gift-giving becomes mandatory it loses all its beauty.

So with all this being said we would like to encourage you to keep these three points circling in your head as you complete your shopping.

A real gift…

  1. Notices the person
  2. Tickles their fancy
  3. Delights their heart

Bonus thought: fresh flowers are better than plastic ones.   Merry merry!

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

― Amy Wilson-Carmichael

paris & christopher

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Beauty Needs a Lover

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Beauty needs a lover. Without a lover beauty is not beauty.  It is life.  Almost.  A seed.  That is how it seems to me.  Things are not beautiful in and of themselves unless I notice them in and of themselves.  The moment my eye catches it, “Ah!  Yes!” then it unfolds and becomes beautiful.  Do you see what I mean?

If something is not beautiful this does not mean that it is ugly.  It’s just not yet, beautiful.  Almost though.  It’s a threshold, a doorway.  Almost anything you interact with becomes beautiful if you open your eyes, reach out your hand, breath it in.

Beauty is a relationship, a discovery, a beholding, even a bewilderment.  It is a recurring accident if you let it.

One of my favorite moments of beauty comes from Helen Keller, reaching out her hand to the world.  In her own words:

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered.  Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout.

As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly.  I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers.  Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten – a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.  I knew that  “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand.

That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!  There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.

I left the well-house eager to to learn.  Everything had a name, and each name gave gave birth to a new thought.  As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life.  That was because I saw everything with the strange new sight that had come to me.

I learned a great many new words that day.  I do not remember what they all were but I do know that mother, father, sister, teacher were among them – words that were to make the world blossom for me, “like Aaron’s rod with flowers.”  It would have been difficult to find a happier child than I was as I lay in my bed at the close of that eventful day and lived over the joys it had brought me, and for the first time longed for a new day to come.”

 christopher woodhull

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