Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Wawa Give Me This"
A Lesson from Annie

Annie and I went on an ice cream date today.  Day in and day out, I am very mindful to not *just* say how beautiful I think she is.  But I do try to say it, and especially on these dates.  Today when I said so, she looked at her clothes and item by item proceeded to tell me the name of the person who gave it to her.  This is standard for Annie, that each article of clothing has only a few, essential descriptors worth knowing: color, print or pattern, the name of the animal on it (if applicable), and the one who gave it to her.  "Grampy give this to me" (sic).

I am always humbled by the priority of this information to Annie.  There are few toys, clothes, or other miscellaneous items that she cannot account for.  From Mommy to Abuela to Grammy to Uncle Ben and Aunt Beth, dozens of names that she keeps in a Rolodex of ongoing gratitude.

I pray this doesn't give her a complex.  Like, she'll be thirty-seven and hanging on to the shoes that Uncle Michael picked out for her when she was two and a half.  But I do hope she keeps the gift of this ever-present gratitude, and that it rubs off more fully on me.

The other day two door-to-door sales kids came by selling cleaner.  The cleaner is, eh, but what the kids were really selling was their work ethic.  This was their second chance, and they were working hard.  "We want to be like you," one explained.  "We know you worked for this home and that car and all that you have, that nobody gave anything to you.  That's why we're out here."  I admired the work ethic and God knows we've worked hard, too, but the truth is always less sexy: the car was a gift of Rebekah's father to her when she was in college.  In truth, we've owned five cars between the two of us, and every one has been a gift.  The house is a lease.

All truth be told, we have never purchased furniture, except for a few wooden chairs (thus our 'eclectic' style), and we've been giving Annie's clothes away as fast as we've been given them because you can only store so much in closets.  We been given a lot - have been rich and poor at the very same time.  Truthfully, this fact makes it easier to give a lot.  I don't look at the living room and see a collection of that which is "mine."  I see the faces of friends whom I love: the ones who have given to us, and the ones, though maybe strangers now, to whom we will give.

The Church has always taught that the gifts to one are God's gifts to the body.  Would that my life be changed by making this my standard practice, like Annie's: to count among the essential descriptors of each thing/occasion/experience/memory/joy/etc. that I have the name of the one who has most recently shared it and the face of the One who gives all things to (all of) us - to share.

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