Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Perfect Gifts

Scooby’s claws dug into my arm at 4:30 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving.

“Scooby, what?"

“I need to go outside.”

Our puggle doesn’t actually talk, but his communication skills are top notch.


I dragged myself out of bed, walked the dog and decided to hop in the car and just do it. Black Friday was upon me! Why not do some Christmas shopping?

As I made my way through four different stores I noted that amongst the throng up at o’dark looking for deals, there existed three groups.

The Fed Up – These folks were here to attack, not shop. I don’t think any of them were normally morning people and their lack of social skills before noon made them angry pushers. When I spotted one, I went the other way, no matter what.

The Pied Up – This category had enjoyed a feast the day before and seemed groggy but happy. Like a sleepy toddler waddling off to find his toys, the pied up person was not to be feared but definitely someone I avoided standing behind. They were in no hurry whatsoever and were too full and foggy to notice the mob breathing down their necks.

The Prayed Up – Happily, I was in this category, though I must admit praying before shopping is not a habit for me. But it occurred to me that the morning didn’t have to be a frenzy, didn’t have to be purposeless and could be fun. So I prayed and went to work looking for gifts. That was the point of the day.

I was after the perfect gifts.

Each year at this time, I find myself trying to reconcile my checkbook with my heart. I want to give lavishly. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. Although the eight-year-old in me always hopes I will receive lavishly, too. So I go to sales and try to find deals so that my gifts show how much I care.

This year we’ve found ourselves having to really budget our Christmas. I sighed at the thought and took a moment to fantasize going into a department store carte-blanche style. The other day I watched Oprah and she gave away all these expensive gifts to folks from Macon, Georgia. Greed in all its fullness zapped me from the TV like a laser pinpointing its target. Ah, to get a refrigerator with a TV and DVD player imbedded in the front door. To give a basket of expensive skin care products to my sister.

But I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. So what do I do? What gifts do I give?

Last night my husband and I attended a class at our church in which we took a spiritual gifts test. To my surprise the gifts I thought I possessed - hostility, paranoia and inappropriate humor- were not included in the list. But I found that God gave me an exquisitely wrapped box with a beautiful bow. In it? The gifts of hospitality and exhortation and teaching. Wow. How much is hospitality at 5:30 a.m. on Black Friday? Is it on sale?

It’s priceless.

I started thinking about the gifts God gives us, not just at Christmas but every day. Why is that we feel a gift must have a price tag to be an appropriate gift? Why does greed reign supreme this time of year? No offense to Oprah, but come on!

My pastor suggested doing something a little different this year with friends and family. How about giving something that money can’t buy? God gave me the gift of exhortation. It is a wonderful present that I use all the time and it doesn’t require batteries.

So what can I give this year? Don’t tell, but here is a peek in my closet where I have stacked up some gifts. (I wish I could list all of the wonderful people I know. I can’t.)

*To my husband, I will give a week of clear days and winding roads. He can ride his motorcycle with God’s words building him up in his heart while the sun beams down on his back.

*To my boy, I will give a buddy. A young man who loves Jesus and soccer and Pokemon.

*To my sister Karen, I will give doctor’s visits that always end with the phrase, “You’re healthy as a horse!”

*To my niece Grace, I will give the ability to dance everyday the rest of her life with no pain whatsoever.

*To my friend Desha, I will give a man who sees her for the incredible girl she is and who will treat her like a queen daily. He will be a geek, too, because she wants one.

*To my anonymous brother Bill, I will give a book deal so everyone in America can be as blessed as I am with his wisdom.

*To my friends at Words for the Journey, I will give baskets filled with moments of pure satisfaction and joy as they look at the words they’ve written.

*To Maxine, Carol Jo and Lucille – the aunts who mother me and love me unconditionally – I will give videos filled with all the moments that they have blessed me and my siblings. This way, they can get a tiny peek into the effect their wit and generosity of spirit has on Sally and Walker’s kids.

*To Jesus (it’s His birthday, isn’t it?) I will give my heart and friendship and a box of gratitude for all He’s done for me.

It will be a lavish Christmas, after all.


cj marley said...

So here I sit at my desk in Cherokee County, KS bawling. :)

Bless you, child of Walker & Sally.

Justin said...

well said. I would give you the knowledge that people read your words daily and are better for it.


Jan Parrish said...

Thank you for that precious gift. :)

Robbie Iobst said...

CJ - Tears are wonderful in my book! Thank you for loving me and encouraging me since I was a babe!
Justin - THANK YOU! I respect your opinion so much and so what you wrote moved me deeply!
Jan - You are the woman! Thanks for teaching me so much about blogging yesterday!

Desha said...


So, I'm sitting here at work reading your blog (blog stalking is part of my job description, y'know...) and I'm trying not to laugh out loud at your words, and then I'm trying not to CRY! I look forward to your Tuesday and Thursday updates like a junkie looks forward to--um--er-- SOAP OPERAS. Yeah, that's it. I love you.

P.S. The F.Murray Abraham rubbing-of-elbows encounter consisted of me running up to him like a schoolgirl after seeing him in a play and begging for his autograph on my program. Unfortunately, he failed to see me for the true genius I am. Le sigh.

Jan Parrish said...

So want to join me in a little light hearted meme? Come visit my blog.

tonya said...

Robbie, what a wonderful giver, you are! Beautiful post.