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Monday, December 12, 2016


Today's devotional was about using the gifts or talents that each human possesses.  These gifts can range from artistic capabilities to public speaking to the myriad of human endeavors.  The words did as intended, I began thinking how I am using my talents.  Living in the United States on earth, this time of year the world is full of holidays.  In a nation that has been predominately Christian, Christmas is an obsession at this time of year.  There are all sorts of reasons for the obsession that indeed overflows into households that have no faith.  Households that are agnostic and atheist.  Christmas is now big business as attested to by the Black Friday sales.  Many companies know that the bottom line goes from red to a glowing black as a result of the sale of goods and services during this time of year.  Just a fact, not a condemnation.

Gifting is so different than in decades and centuries in the past.  For about 2 decades, from 1975 to 1993, we lived next door to two sisters who were retired school teachers, Sis and Hazel.  Salt of the earth ladies.  One sister was born around 1895 with the younger sister and twin brother born around 1905.  Neither sister had married and were living in their childhood home with the now widowed twin brother. The sisters helped rear the brother's small daughter after the untimely death of his wife.  Eventually I was introduced to the daughter's family and be came fast friends with the whole group.

During some of the last years we lived next to the Gardner sisters we would take them some freshly baked Christmas breads a day or so before Christmas.  We would be invited in for a visit.  Often we would have thought up a question to ask the sisters to hear some of their stories.  We would sit mesmerized listening to them tell stories of their early years of teaching.  One year our question was what was Christmas like as a teacher.  They shared the story of their Christmas tradition during the lean years of the Depression and WWII years. 

Sis and Hazel would order a crate of oranges, apples, unshelled nuts and ribbon candy.  They would then give a 'poke bag' containing one each of the fruit and candy plus a handful nuts.  Sis noted the sack of goodies were for many of the students their only gifts to mark the season.  In return some students would give a 'teacher gift' of a handkerchief.  The sisters put the dozens of handkerchiefs together into bedspreads.  They had to show us the beautiful spreads before we left that one evening.  It was obvious the gifts they gave and received were true gifts of love.  As surely was the hearing of the story of their giving to the children.

December is, also, the month of my birth.  I receive gifts from my husband and son.  More than I need but truly enjoyed and appreciated.  Then time is spent gathering gifts for sisters, husband, son and his family.  A couple of friends and I still exchange gifts.  These are times of plenty in our family group.  A gift of an orange, apple, nuts and some candy would seem somehow out of place.  There are still those who would welcome a 'poke sack' filled with such simple items.  Pretty sure it is those poor and suffering for whom this season should be the focus of giving.  And yet ..... I sit wondering about how I should use my talents ....

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