Our Painful Memories Could Lead to True Gift-Giving

Public testimonies have never been “my thing” but recently, a friend has caused me to at least think about the power of consoling, encouraging and the uplifting of another person, through the telling of your personal story. And so this is as good as it gets:


Excerpt from my journal 12/25/13:

I prefer to move as quickly as possible through these holidays like: Christmas, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day. I have so many strong memories and thoughts about these days. I have often wondered about this “gift” of memory that has been given specifically to our species (so we believe). It is very much a gift as we can’t continue to “relearn” aspects of life over and over again. There are many things like: “fire=hot”; for which our memory is important and perhaps even lifesaving. But there is a price for memory (doesn’t anything worthwhile have a price?) which must often be paid when the objects of a good memory are no more. But, guess what; God has not left us alone with our painful memories; there is a way; counterintuitive and illogical to the thinking of this world, that we can transform a sad memory into an education about ourselves; (adversity reveals who we truly are) and a dedication to good works (in difficult times how we treat others is what we really believe); and it is those good works that will ultimately sustain and heal us. I remember my mother driving me crazy as a youngster during the Christmas season. I really thought that Pauline Johnson was channeling Santa Clause (although I did not know the word: “channeling” back then).  She kept a “gift room” and if we brought a friend to the house; and particularly if a young child would visit; she would “disappear” for a moment; and come back “miraculously” with a small fully gift-wrapped gift for the person. How did she do it? It seems that she had some type of coding system that I never understood.  It was probably organized like: “male child 7-12” or “Female child 3-6”, etc. But it was amazing, as she never failed to produce an appropriate gift for a Christmas visitor (and we always had visitors!). And then she would deliver the gift as if she knew all along the person was coming (Oh, the dramatic skill!) and she just had their gift waiting for them. The gift recipient would always be pleasantly stunned. Now this must have been a generational “Mothers of the church thing”, as I also saw Ma Walker pull this same act when one year I went by her house on Christmas to drop off her and Pop Walker’s gifts; I brought a friend along with me; who needed a ride to their grandparent’s house. Sure enough Ma Walker, like Pauline Johnson disappeared for a moment and amazingly came back with a perfectly age/ gender appropriate gift, with the person’s name on the tag!  And of course, she and my mother must have taken the same drama course as she also delivered the gift with the greatest of Christmas gift giving flair. I must confess that even I was momentarily connived that she knew I was bringing someone with me; which, of course she didn’t. Most important in these thoughtful acts of gift giving, the gifts are given with the thought that the giver will never receive a gift in return from the gift recipient.

How amazing are the thoughts and ways of God! This morning I kept saying over and over again; you must get up and move; in order to bless somebody.  The same exact words I delivered to one of my Church members last night who was having a difficult time.  The goal of just being a blessing to at least one person is enough to get us out of bed! My mind traveled back a few days ago when I thought I had finished my shopping; and then I ended up going back to the mall because (and I will explain) I had forgotten someone.  At the checkout counter I was humming: “Christmas time is here…” …as the sales clerk was ringing up the items; when suddenly she snapped and said: “I will be so glad when I don’t have to hear that song anymore”. My initial thought was to call for the store manager in order to ask if it is the stores policy for sales clerks to dismiss and discourage the feeling of a Christmas spirit on the part of customers; particularly when that “sprit” is handing the clerk a credit card! But thank God the spirit of compassion (The Michael for which I am named, pushed that other michael aside) came into me. I asked the sales clerk: “what’s really wrong young lady; it’s really not about the song, is ti?” She replied: “Well no, it’s just that I am so discouraged that so many people don’t  have the right Christmas spirit; they leave Christ out; you should see how nasty and mean they are to us when an item is sold out.” I then relayed to her the reason I was in J.C Penny. I could take the time to talk to her because despite the frantic atmosphere in the store, oddly no one was behind me in the check-out line. I told her that I was comfortable and relaxed at home, I had completed my shopping and happy not to be in the frantic 12/23/13 crowd. When suddenly I realized that I gave a present to the mother of a young lady (which the young lady delivered to her) and the son of that same young lady in my church; and did not give her a gift; and that I felt a sense “righteous guilt”; which I explained to her is translated as “convicted” in the Christian belief system. And so as inconvenient and uncomfortable as it was for me to come out again, I came here to get her something (and since the Lord sent me on a mission, and put some Dockers men’s slippers on sale at the same time; I did not want to disappoint Him. Now if I could only think of a way to wrap them and put them under the tree and surprise myself! :-) In any event; I continued with the sales clerk. I told her that I hardly know the young lady and in fact, I don’t even remember her name! And I don’t want a gift, a card or anything from her in return! She said: “What!”…”You are really doing Christmas the right way”. I responded that maybe if a few Christians do Christmas the right way (seeing that God can work His will with any number); perhaps we can change the world; even if it’s one person’s world at a time. Her entire countenance changed; as if a spirit of despair and cynicism had been lifted from her: “Thank you, so much”; she said.

  I thought; maybe there was another reason for the “forgetfulness that brought me into that store, on that day.  Forgetfulness aside, we will always be reminded of our calling in life. If we fit into the ways of this world then we are not fit to realize our calling in this world. We Christians should look awkward, out of place, ill at ease; in a world that reduces every event, every relationship, indeed every act into a commercial experience. We cannot worry about the numbers of people who are doing right; or more importantly the number of people who treat us right. During Christ-Mass; Christians-Must; look and act different; that’s our gift!