dear hilary: on extraordinary gifts

Dear Hilary,

How do you give gifts to people for Christmas, gifts that mean something, gifts that are treasures, and not just one more shiny wrapping paper token?

Confused by Advertising

Dear Confused by Advertising,

This is what I imagine giving.

I imagine wrapping up your red truck. I give it to you shyly, keys already in your pocket, Dunkin’ Donuts cups in the cupholders waiting for us. I give it and we drive, miles on the tires and country on the radio, and some days it’s quiet in our hearts and some days it’s loud. But you make me this home, brother. You make me this space in your life, this space of welcome even in the late summer evenings and the long thunderstorms. So I give you the breakfasts at the Depot and the kids flying into your arms on your way back from Communion, your steady hug after once again, I’ve hurt my heart in longing and disappointment. I give you the forever love of a big sister who’s in awe of you.

I imagine holding out a cup of tea to you, no wrapping paper. We are only at the beginning of knowing each other, and it’s only been a little while since we first sat in Starbucks and laughed about boys and swapped stories about our journeys at Gordon and our hopes for the future. But I give you this cup of tea, this promise, because even at the beginning of this friendship I can feel your care radiating out from you. I give you this cup of tea (and maybe a truffle, too) – with a small smile, knowing that we have so much to look forward to. Knowing that the beginning of the story of knowing you is more beautiful and more worthwhile than I could have dreamed.

I imagine giving you a framed picture of us on your wedding day. It wasn’t very long ago, you know, but that day, I remember giving a toast from a napkin hidden in my pocket and falling down the stairs and all the while I was overwhelmed  by the joy of watching you make those big promises. I want to tell you with this gift that we’re always and forever family, and I will love you fierce through these new seasons and this new world that we’ve stepped into. I will tell you as I give you the gift, that no matter what, when I think about our room and NCIS and baking cookies and not finishing my books because you want to paint our nails, that I will rejoice. Because you are rare. Because the love of sisters is rare.

I imagine I would give you a plane ticket to Michigan. It doesn’t have a date on it, just the destination, but I’d hand it to you as part of a promise, that distance stretches us and grows us. I would give it to you with the long afternoons that stretch into evenings of macaroni and cheese and Entemann’s raspberry danish and tea, and Searching for Bobby Fisher and dance movies, and always the moment when I reach for the blanket I love and look over, and know that you are still there. That no matter what, when I call or worry or doubt again, you hold all my questions next to me and laugh and somehow, the world brightens. I’d give you the plane ticket with that same laugh, the snow outside bright.

You see, Confused by Advertising, our hearts know the gifts we must give better than we do – the gifts of the people we’ve been given to share this life with, these miraculous beautiful heartwrenching friends and family and mentors and inspirations who walk into our lives and transform us.

Don’t worry about the right iPod case. Don’t worry about the better gadget or kitchen appliance or the newest Spiderman movie. Don’t worry about homemade chocolate.

Look at each of those people, the ones who hold you up when you fall apart, the ones who walk into your office and offer you a word of hope. Look at each of them, and with all of your heart, just say thank you.

Because all of this is gift from another Giver. Because when we empty ourselves of the need to impress and dazzle, we find simply that we are thankful.

So give thanks.



One thought on “dear hilary: on extraordinary gifts

  1. Dear Hilary,

    I imagine giving you a room with a view. It’s deep inside a sanctuary hidden the woodlands. It’s a young forest filled with the trials that encourage growth trials of growth but bristling with vibrant expressions of life. I would give entrust it to you with the promise of future adventures— inside the stories you will write and the conversations we have yet to share.
    I imagine capturing one of these “snapshots” you love so much: those that express the gratitude of everybody who receives the language of wild love that you create for them. I would wrap it in the hugs that we share that have become the bookends to our encounters. I would tuck in my own thank you note. A small note that blossomed into snow-globe that can be swirled around whenever we to so we can share our enchantment by the wonders of others whenever we want.

    A friend

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