catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 8 :: 2010.04.16 — 2010.04.29


Freely given

Though it is a common enough practice, I have never registered for gifts — not for my wedding more than 17 years ago, not for the birth of either of my children. And maybe because of this, I still do not have a large and complete matching set of china or glasses or silverware. But in my cupboards at home are an old creamer set from my mom, a strainer from my grandmother and an assortment of mismatched forks and spoons that I have acquired accidentally from friends at potlucks. When our house is full of people for Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving meals, I just put out the mismatched pieces without a thought and no one has ever once complained.

I do understand why people want to register: to avoid duplication of gifts, to make it easy for family members who might not know what to get, to let people know what colors you prefer. But there is something about the process of choosing gifts ahead of time that takes away joy and spontaneity. Registering for gifts seems to me an act of distrust: you want to control the outcome.

But as people of faith, we believe that when we lose control, when we lose our very lives, when we give up our right to say how it will go and open our hands to whatever God wants to place in them, we open ourselves to things we could never think to ask for — things that reflect the creativity and delight of those who love us, things like the hand-knit blanket made by my husband’s Oma.

Oma was nearly completely blind when she made it. The colors are crazy — she would pick up whatever ball of yarn was next in her box without a thought of matching what had gone before. She knit to keep her hands busy; it was a way for her to fill the quiet spaces left by the darkness of her sight. That big, crazy blanket she made for our wedding must have taken her hours. And it was her way of gifting us with warmth, with the surprise of brightness, with love and covering that stretched years beyond even her own life.

Those are the kind of gifts that last long beyond matching crystal glasses or perfect china patterns. Those are the kind of gifts, like grace, that are what they are only because they are freely given.

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