Just recently, at a time I needed a frank second opinion, I thought of a woman with whom I had a friendship several years ago. She was quite a bit older than me and at first acquaintance she had a rather gruff demeanor. Once I got to know her, I soon discovered she had a heart of gold. What I liked most was that she was honest and straight-forward with her opinions and extremely kind. Just thinking of her made me wish I could sit down and have a good long, heart-to-heart talk with her. I knew she would have told me how she sees it whether it was what I wanted to hear or not. There’s a certain comfort in that. Unfortunately, she died some years ago.
This past week as I sat behind a table of my books at a craft sale, I spied her only daughter surveying the variety of crafts. When she came closer, loneliness for her mother washed over me again. By that time she was close enough, and without giving it a second thought, I called her name. Her face lit up in recognition and she came close.
“Barb, I just wanted to tell you how much I still miss your mother. I often wish I could sit down and have a good chat with her. She meant so much to me.”
Barb’s big brown eyes softened. “Why thank you so much for telling me that! I miss her too, but sometimes I get to wondering if I’m the only one who does. Thanks for giving me that gift.”
The rest of the afternoon, between talking to customers, my mind raced on. My heart was filled with gladness that I acted on the impulse to tell Barb about what I was feeling. I like to think that she may remember my words in the coming weeks and feel warmth in the knowing. But my thoughts didn’t stop there.
At this time of year, most of us are also pondering about gifts. Some gifts lists are larger than others, some budgets are carefully set out and adhered to, some are overspent so that payment almost until next Christmas. Some are tired of the rat race of making sure they give a gift to everyone who will give them one. However there are those who love choosing meaningful gifts for their loved ones and who also delight in giving to those who can’t return the favor, finding ways to give that won’t make the recipient feel beholden to the giver.
Many of you reading this are authors or at least people who find words are life and joy. We know that words can bring comfort, enlightenment, inspiration, growth and much more.
What if we used our word-power as gifts this year? Start with your family. Use some nice stationery and write each of them a note telling them the unique, individual reasons you love them and what you wish for them. (Not material things, but strengths, growth, love, understanding—the things that make life worthwhile.)
Move on to other relatives, your friends and co-workers, people with whom you serve on committees, people at church, your boss. If you are the boss, think what it would mean to your employees to know what strengths, what characteristics of theirs are important to you and to your business and how much you appreciate them.
When I told my son about the ideas that were flitting around in my head since my talk with Barb, he just illustrated from his life what I wanted to say. In his business they had a large project this past year. It took a lot of hard work, commitment and cooperation from both his organization and the supply company to get everything up and running. Ninety people were involved in seeing it to completion. He has just finished hand-written notes of appreciation to each of those which he will deliver in person. The words in those notes, coming straight from his heart, are sure to make a difference in 90 lives. Yours and mine will too—changing our world one encouraging word at a time.
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The Word becoming flesh, giving life and light, changing the world! As writers who are Christian, we also hold that Word in our hearts and it’s ours to give along with our words of recognition and affirmation.
“We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 1 John 1:4