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Tuesday, 24 September 2019 07:00

Is that Present for Me?

 2019.54.is that presnt for me.main blog

It wasn’t quite the greeting my sister expected.  No hello, no hug, not even any eye contact, because the excited little birthday girl could not take her eyes off the bulging bag in my sister’s hand containing the all-important present (a Frozen hoodie none-the-less).  ”Is that present for ME?” was thus the greeting she received from the wide-eyed child.

Now, I can quite confidently that as a kid, I, too, was fanatic about getting presents.  My family often tell the story of me as a 10 year old crying about “the worst Christmas ever” (definition: being forced to wait until 5pm for present time), which only hours later turned into a smiling proclamation of “the best Christmas ever” once the goodies had arrived and I’d come out of it with a boogie board and a set of golf clubs!

As adults I think there can often be a definite waning in the excitement over gift-giving.  This may be fair enough because perhaps we’re a fairly self-sufficient bunch and we don’t need anything extra anyway.  But in another way, there’s a lot we can learn from our wide-eyed, gift-loving smaller compadres on this matter.

I love Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, her simple premise being that noticing and listing the little ‘gifts’ that come our way each day teaches us to have a heart of gratitude for what we have in our lives.  This American home-school mother of six responded to a challenge to gradually list all of the ‘gifts’ in her daily life all the way up to one thousand.  In the process she opened her eyes to the colour, shapes, beauty, blessings and joys of an otherwise chaotic, messy, disordered and exhausting existence.

Suffice to say, the exquisite language and style of this book soon had me compiling my own gifts list.  Everything from meeting up with friends, to a bike ride around the lake, to having a belly full of good food went from being ordinary moments to ones where I felt like I’d really received something precious.

Falling leaves, waddling swans, sparkling water and arching willows were now things I actually noticed, appreciated and got excited about when I learned to see them as little gifts in my day – presents for me and not just some kind of general amenity for the masses. 

My listing of gifts slowly taught me to unwrap all the little presents of each day…and gave me the eagle eye of a kid on her birthday to see where the next one might be coming from!

Berna Toohey