December 3, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Look to God’s gifts, and your hearts will be full

Patti LambEach year when Christmas shopping for the kids, I have to be careful to ensure the quantity, quality and price point of the gifts are equally distributed between Henry and Margaret. They are teenage siblings and therefore have a knack for quickly comparing their gift piles on Christmas morning, ensuring that everything is fair and neither child got the better end of the holiday.

Keeping that in mind, I wrap gifts accordingly and facilitate Christmas morning with careful instruction regarding which child should open which package next. (Sigh.)

I used time during Thanksgiving break to wrap some gifts ahead of time and found myself reflecting on truly meaningful gifts—not necessarily the kind we unwrap on Christmas morning.

I collected the wrapping paper, ribbons, tape and scissors. My hands were too full and I dropped the scissors, which landed on my grandmother’s rosary on the table. Thankfully, it didn’t break, and I took a minute to reflect on grandma’s rosary and what a treasure it is.

It does not belong to me. My family shares it—whomever most needs it at a particular time gets to hold onto the rosary. It’s my turn to carry it with me. I can feel the power in every bead, imagining how my grandmother’s fingers held onto those same beads, inviting the Blessed Mother to hear her petitions and take them to her Son. Grandma fervently prayed that the Catholic faith would be passed down for generations.

I pray that one day my kids will understand how valuable a family rosary is—it’s a gift worth more than any sweatshirt they may unwrap from a store at the mall.

Later when I glanced up at the clock, I noticed the stuffed lamb sitting on the corner of my bed.

I gave it to my Aunt Dolores in an Easter basket years ago, and hospice workers used it to support her neck during her final days. My cousin Joe kindly let me keep it after she passed. Knowing it was so close to heaven brings me comfort when I’m distraught and can’t sleep.

Fast forward to that evening. It was time to run errands, and it was frigid outside. I pulled out my heavy winter coat, and my nose inevitably began to run before I pulled out of the driveway. Fortunately, I found a handkerchief in a coat pocket. My sister let me have it when she cleaned out our dad’s closet after he returned to God.

“Another gift I can never put a price on,” I thought to myself.

That day, I realized most of my possessions have no monetary value but are valuable to me because of the good souls with whom they’re connected.

My hope is that my kids will one day value gifts that money can’t buy: their health, genuine friendships, loyal family members, their grandmother’s hugs, forgiveness, the gift of our faith, God’s grace.

There are blessings I sometimes take for granted, and I’m trying to be more intentional about recognizing the gifts around me—many of which I’ll never unwrap.

I’m not certain who said it, but there’s a quote I like that reads, “If you want to feel rich, just count all the gifts you have that money can’t buy.”

Henry and Margaret: I’m hopeful you remember this not just on Christmas morning, but every day. Look to God’s gifts and your hearts will be full. I’m learning—and I hope you, too, learn in time—that few gifts are financial in nature.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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