Simple gifts

I love this photo, which I keep posted in my kitchen. It reminds me that simple gifts are the best ones . . . and perhaps even the most memorable.

My sister Nan, who carved this four-piece creche scene out of soap and spray painted it gold, gave it to my parents one Christmas when we were teenagers.

I remember pooh-poohing it at the time, thinking it wasn’t much of an offering. But my parents treasured it, and my mom kept it on her dresser all year long. In fact, out of several creche scenes my parents owned, it was the only one Mom kept when she moved into a tiny senior living apartment this summer.

My mother, the artist who has created hundreds of watercolor paintings over the years. My mother, who gave away or sold several valuable pieces of art in the last year. My mother, who has the eye for what is artwork and what is not.

You see, she also recognizes heartwork. And my sister’s handmade creche was the most beautiful gift possible because it came from her heart.

This week marks a second full year without my sister Nan on this earth. But God is doing heartwork in us four remaining siblings. Because of our loss of Nan, I think we’ve been learning to be kinder and gentler and more generous. There were no squabbles in dividing up Mom’s (and Dad’s, though he’s been gone 18 years) houseful of paintings and antiques and memory-filled furnishings. And we’re doing a better job of communicating with one another–although I’m the worst of the bunch.

So, as you think of what might be meaningful–or even impressive–as a gift for a family member or friend, perhaps some form of heartwork would be the most memorable.

Merry Christmas!


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