When I was a little boy, my Dad used to amuse me and my siblings with stories of a relative who wasnâ€™t very appreciative of gifts. Part of the problem was that nobody seemed to know what he wanted, and so (as a grown man) he received a lot of neckties. As the story went, he opened the box (already guessing what it was by its shape) and, in a sneering, nasally, flatly-disappointed voice, declared: â€œOh. Another tie.â€
My Dad never did tell us which hapless relative it was, but Iâ€™ll bet his luck never changed.
I can imagine poor Uncle Elmer enduring flat, elongated packages for the rest of his life. “Well, dear,” Aunt Eunice would say, as they sat together in a nursing home, “here are your presents from the family: hey, look, a long rectangular package about the shape of … a tie! And another one! How exciting!” My imaginary Aunt Eunice always did have a sarcastic tongue.
Rachel is very skilled at having something gracious to say.
Gift variety hasn’t been much of problem for me, ever since Amazon created their Wish List. Now, if Iâ€™m shopping on Amazon for someone else, and I see something I would like, I just pop it into my wish list. Patiently, I wait for my birthday or Christmas to arrive, watching hopefully (but discreetly) for the UPS truck outside. I try to keep my wish list well-populated so there is still the opportunity for surprise, and, of course, many have their own ideas of what would be the best gift. I try not to discourage such folks — it is, after all, a free country.
Well, sort of. For some values of ‘free’, anyway.
I donâ€™t get many ties, either. This is a good thing, since I only wear them to funerals.
I remember my poor Dadâ€™s birthdays, when I was a kid. He was lucky to get a can of cashews to celebrate the day of his birth. He would often pull out all the stops when remembering my Momâ€™s birthday, but there never seemed to be many presents on the breakfast table when February 3rd rolled around. Maybe everyone was gifted-out from Groundhog Day; but it happened at Christmas, too. Dad used to re-wrap puzzles and model train cars he had received in prior years just to make it look more festive â€“ this was particularly embarrassing when it turned out that he had purchased the original gift himself.
The kids made me a great birthday sign.
As a forty-mumble-something Dad, I didnâ€™t really have my hopes very high. Dads are supposed to be stoically selfless, deferring their own gratification for the good of the family, soldiering on across a barren and gift-less landscape. As our budget continues to rage, I know exactly how much has been set aside for my birthday (including decorations and any special meal ingredients). It doesnâ€™t leave a lot of wiggle-room for Kathy, if she wanted to inundate me with presents.
Imagine my surprise to find a whole laundry basket full of gifts from various family members. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity and kindness â€“ I felt very well-loved and cared for, from all sides.
Joshua cared for me so well, he ate cake in my honor.
It was a very good day. I had to work some in the morning, but was nearly done by the time my parents came by to shower me with presents and eat lunch with us. Then Kathy and I went on a â€˜hot dateâ€™ to Cash & Carry, a low-cost bulk food store in our area which we recently â€˜discoveredâ€™.
Coming home, we spent some time experimenting with our rendition of Panidaâ€™s Thai Curry, with some considerable success and enjoyment. Dropping the kids off at church for AWANA and youth group, we had a little time to go for a quick walk and for me to play a computer game.
Kathy made a Black Forest Cake for me (my favorite kind of cake) and, although it slipped and oozed, it was very tasty. We ended the day with family devotions.
Sarah graciously agreed to eat cake with us.
There were lots of things I wanted to do, including playing a board game, reading aloud a story from one of my new books, and working on a secret project for Joshuaâ€™s birthday. I often find there is usually more fun than time available in my plans. Still, it was a great and celebratory day; I am indeed blessed.
Nobody seemed to mind the oozing.