This morning, I drew today’s cat-toon before I went for morning tea with my sister Rina. When we returned home, I was greeted by the sight of Monty with a sparrow in his mouth! My expression was nothing like my cat-toon reaction – more like a high-pitched scream and violent arms flailing/shooing my cat away.
But then, that is what all cat lovers have to contend with. After all, felines will brandish their owners with gifts of birds, skinks (aka lizards), eels, rats and (fill in with their catch of the day). Their intentions may be pure, but the purest of intentions have as of yet failed to make me smile — especially when a feathered corpse is laid at my feet.
Thankfully, my family and friends make up for my pets’ shortcomings when it comes to gift-giving.
After more than four years together, my husband knows that words of love and affection are my favourite kind of present. I cherish his cards with short but meaningful declarations of devotion, most especially because this doesn’t come naturally to him. But he does it anyway, because he knows it will make me happy (oftentimes, I appreciate the card more than the presents — and he gives lovely ones!) .
I love the well-crafted greetings from my sisters and close friends around the world that hit my heart’s sweet spot. Truth is, while I do appreciate material gifts, I prefer emails, chats, coffee meetups, hugs, freshly baked cakes, potted plants, home-made cards and pots of plum jam, hand-written greetings and letters. In her later years, my mother used to say she didn’t want or need gifts whenever her birthday was coming up. All that mattered, she said, was the company of her loved ones. And the older I get, I get her more.
What matters most are my relationships.
On my 47th birthday, I am grateful for meaningful connections that have stood the test of time, and the forging of new ones that make me smile and laugh and cry tears of joy. I am glad that, as I enter this new year in my life, God has my back. I love that my life is not random (no one’s is), and that I can expect great gifts of joy and adventure as part of a bigger, divine plan in my life. I love how in Psalm 139:13, 15-16, the psalmist uses crafter’s terms to depict how our Creator fashioned us for wonderful things even before we were born. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
My hope is that despite my constant need for reading glasses, I won’t miss out the blessings and acts of kindness of friends and strangers daily; that in light of my dithering sense of hearing, I will pick up words of inspiration and hope; and that when the time comes that I can’t run anymore, I’ll still be able to keep in step with those who crave the company of a true friend…and let my words of encouragement do the walking. For me, these are priceless gifts.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” – Matthew 7:9 (NIV)