We give you the best gift we can but it’s nowhere close to what we feel. We might find a card that begins to say what we feel, or we might not even try. We’ve read them all before and they just don’t come close.
When I was a child, one parent would give me money to buy the other parent a gift. I would pick out some little trinket all by myself, that was probably really ugly and useless. Or perhaps I would listen to advice and pick something that was actually desired. I would present the gift proudly, thinking I had really done something worthy of gratitude and appreciation, never stopping to think about how my parents just bought their own gift.
Now I realize what a paltry offering I bring. What can I give you that you haven’t already given to me a thousand times over?
Now that I’m the parent, I see more clearly. My husband gives the children money to buy me a gift. I give them money he earned to buy him a gift. They present it to us every bit as proudly as if they had really sacrificed to get it.
And we love it. Ugly trinket or the one we genuinely wanted. Knowing that we are the ones who sacrificed to let them have the honor of handing us something we bought ourselves.
Being on the parent side shows me the love it took for you to let us give you “gifts”. I recognize that love in you now because I have it too. It wasn’t because you wanted to feel loved on your day, or to receive a gift. It was because you loved us. That’s why you spent more money to let us think we were loving you. Sometimes that may have been a bigger sacrifice than we ever could have realized. But it wasn’t about you on Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day or your birthday or Christmas. It was about us. We thought we were doing something wonderful for you, but really it was the other way around.
I see that now, now that I’m a mom. And I also see that it is still true. It hasn’t changed a bit. We bring you the best gift we can afford. And maybe this time the money came from our own paycheck instead of yours, but it still pales in comparison to what you have given us. Every year you continue to pour out love on us, making it impossible for us to ever dream of matching your gifts. It feels so silly to hand you our little whatever when you have just paid for our van repair or our vacation or bought us a gift we would have had to save for three years to afford. But you love the little whatever that we have to offer. Because for you, it’s still about us.
I see that now, as a parent. I treasure the little whatever’s my treasures will offer me today. We pour out buckets on them so they can offer us a drop. Because as a parent, it’s about teaching them to love. It’s about lavishing love on them so they will learn what love means. And when we do this, when you did it, the child sees a picture of the perfect Parent, the One we parents are supposed to point to.
God loves us with an extravagant love, and there is nothing we can offer Him that He didn’t give us, but He delights in our praise and our offerings just as if they really originated with us. I can see that so easily, because of the picture you gave me. You delight in what I give you that you really gave me. And today I will delight in what my children give me that I really gave them. And I pray that I show them the picture of God’s love that you showed me.
To the ones who raised us: now you are not only Mom and Dad, but also Nanny and Papa, Grandmama and Poppaw. You still pour out love on us, but now on our kids as well. And we still have nothing more than a feeble little gift to give you. But because of you, we have learned to pour out love as a parent. And because for you, it’s still about us, you delight more in watching us love our kids than in any gift we could wrap for you.
Thank you for loving us enough to let us give you “gifts”. Thank you for sacrificing for us. Thank you for showing us how to love our own little ones. Thank you for loving them, too.
But most of all, thank you for the picture you showed us, and continue to show us, of our Heavenly Father who loves us all more lavishly than we could ever dream.