“Take time to do what makes your soul happy.”–Unknown
What comes to your mind when you think of presents? Is it for a birthday, Christmas, special occasion, or just because? Well, my birthday was last week. I turned 39 and am not ashamed to tell my age. It means I have experienced life for 39 years. It means I have survived numerous surgeries including eye, exploratory to removal of intestinal blockage, blood clot on wrist, ovarian cysts removal, 2 c-sections, and thyroid removal twice (2 lobes separately). It means I have endured and managed Crohn’s Disease for 21 years (probably more before the diagnosis). It means I have endured and managed an asthma diagnosis and severe allergies for 13 years. It means I have endured and conquered thyroid cancer for almost 5 years! I have had great loss of my older brother by two years being killed when I was 20 years old. Of my grandparents struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia which eventually brought on their deaths. However, I have had great gains in life too. I met my soul mate in high school. He has held my hand through it all. God knew I was going to need extra support and love in my life early on. I have 2 great sons that bring me joy and yard flowers on a regular basis. I have a big house and yard that lends space to my green thumb adventures.
Presents have never been a big deal for me. While growing up, the birthday person got to choose what we had to eat for supper. We had cake and a few gifts afterward. The gifts were usually some clothing, some school or art supplies, and a special item based on own interest. This is the same way we celebrate birthdays today with my boys. Surprises never have suited well with me. My friends threw me a surprise party for my 18th birthday and I fainted! So on my 30th birthday, my dear husband organized a ‘staggering drop in’ party where folks would show up at different times– all without me knowing it. Anyway, it was also a gardening party. I never have been a girly girl or have desires for material items. Giving me hand tools, gardening gloves, gardening totes, and plants were suggestions for gifts. My good friend, Chris, had another idea. DIRT ….bags of garden dirt. Ironically, he had just bought some for his yard and had extras. His wife told him not to bring them inside but to keep them in the trunk. ‘Dirt isn’t a present you give a 30-year-old lady’ she thought. Boy was she wrong and Chris was right (of course he knew cause he is more like a brother to me). Those bags of dirt were my favorite gifts of that day.
Bouquets of flowers wilt and die over time. Expensive jewelry doesn’t appeal to me (I have an allergy to gold). Clothing should be tried on first. So typical presents have little appeal. However, plants are alive and help purify the air. Flowers for the yard beautify the space as well as feed insects. Dirt can bring nutrients to plants. Gardening tools help me maintain my plants and make it easier doing so. All of these presents bring joy to me time after time again. Presence can also be more of a present. Simply being outside with me as I work in the garden brings joy. Going for a walk and talking about everything and nothing brings joy. Being able to appreciate God’s gifts to bring beauty to the surroundings brings joy. Being able to enjoy and share the harvest God has provided brings joy. Simplicity of presents bring joy time after time.