All week long our family has been the recipient of a hodge-podge of confectionary neighborhood gifts; carmel corn, cookies, chocolate, etc. Every year it's the same, women of the neighborhood add to their stress level, yeilding to feelings of obligation, scrambling to give their neighbors something because their neighbors have given them a "gift." So they run to the store, purchase a sugary concoction of Christmas candy, wrap it in cellophane so it lends a whisper of "homemade," and deliver it to their neighbors. Their neighbors each accept it graciously, never letting on that their kitchen counter is already filled with enough aresenal to create a diabetic out the the healthiest of individuals.
I must confess, I'm as guilty as the next neighbor. I do this every year. And I graciously accept the gifts every year. I might not enjoy all the candy, but I do enjoy the thoughts behind it.
But tonight, when the doorbell rang--again, there was a different species of gift bearer standing at my door. Four-year-old Charlotte Steed; she held a loaf of bread in her hands and a brilliant smile on her face. With her little arms, she held the loaf cinnamin raisin bread out toward me. A warmth filled my heart. I rushed to her. "Is that for me," I responded--though if that had been an adult I would have never dared be so bold. But I was sincere. I was truely delighted that she would think of me, the lowly Primary chorister. My reaction ignigted an even bigger smile on her sweet little face, a smile so warm with pure childlike innocence and joy it could have melted and iceberg in winter. Add with it her angelic little voice saying, "Merry Christmas," and my heart was a puddle.
Her dad explained how they had put together gifts to give her Primary teachers. Then Charlotte said, "What about Sister Frank? I want to give a gift to her." He dad said she loves singing time because of me. That made the gift even sweeter. I gave her a hug. We wished each other a merry Christmas again, and she was gone. I walked away from that front door with a gift that will stay with me longer than any of that candy (well, only if I get back on a diet after Christmas). That being the gift of a child's sincere appreciation.
And that's better than any confection man could ever hope to create out of butter and sugar.