Ugly sweaters, white elephant gifts – our creative culture has figured out a way to make the worst gifts useable. Not valuable. Useable.
Each of us can probably think of at least one gift we received in our lifetime which was a disappointment. It was not what we wanted. A friend shared that she and her husband were recipients of a pantry shower when they moved to a small town. She was so excited at the welcoming gesture. However, several of the items were out-of-date and a jar of peanut butter had a spoonful missing! What were they thinking? (I have a theory that a child got into the peanut butter and the mom had no idea it was opened!)
When our children were little, my brother’s family and mine used to get together at Christmas and exchange gifts. Eight of his children had opened their gifts from Auntie with joy and thanks. I thought I had done a pretty good job of finding the right gifts for each one. And then, the youngest, opened his gift. A LeapFrog book to go with the LeapFrog tablet he had received from his mom and dad.
His smile faded.
I felt terrible. Although the gift was one suggested by his mom, I should have known that this sweet little boy, who did not enjoy school, would not want a book. He wanted a toy. Something to play with. Or candy. Something sweet to eat.
But not a book. I felt terrible because I want the gifts I give to be enjoyed. I have changed the way I choose gifts for people since that evening.
With that in mind, I encourage you to think about the gifts you give. Once again, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Have you considered giving a gift of appreciation? It is important to know the person to whom you are giving the gift if you want it to be special. It takes thought! Take them to their favorite restaurant. Or gift cards to their favorite stores. What does the family like to do together? What would they enjoy?
If you don’t have extra money, there are still ways to give. Offer to babysit. Take them a batch of their favorite cookies. Write a thank you note to each member of the family, telling them what you love about them. Take a bouquet of flowers from your garden (but not zucchini). Invite them over for dinner or to play board games.
Take the time to think of the perfect way to encourage your pastor and pastor’s wife today!
But, don’t make them cry.
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