Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gifts of Love

(Gifts of Love, Quilt, 48" x 32")

Each block was created using the stack and slice technique--cutting more than one piece of a pattern at once by stacking up to four layers of fabric. The name of this pattern is "Shopping's Done! Gifts Wrapped!" by Pieces From My Heart. This quilt hangs in our family room.

The Gift of Giving

When I was a young mother, I thought emphasizing the idea of "giving" rather than "receiving" would help build character in my daughters. So our family activities centered around this idea. Each year we send birthday cards, not only to family members, but to friends, signed by all of us. A special phone call with a "Happy Birthday" song was a common occurrence. These activities were meant to help my daughters think about others and to help make others feel special and loved.

What began as a mother's hope spiraled into other family activities. Soon we were visiting nursing homes on a weekly basis. The activities director gave us two women to visit at first, then we became friends with other residents, and we ended up visiting many more. We sang inspirational songs to our friends each Sunday, and some of the nurses joined in our singing. These nursing home residents became like "grandmas" to my daughters and like "mothers" to me. Although my daughters seemed reluctant in the beginning, they eventually looked forward to these visits.

Throw a rock into a pond and watch the rippling effect. These family activities eventually spiraled into more service activities. We took our Polynesian show to other nursing homes in the area, and we didn't stop there. Opportunities appeared, and we provided entertainment for local church groups, for community fund raising events, for school cultural events, and for scouting activites. In addition, each Christmas we baked "sweet treats" and shared them when we went Christmas caroling. All of these activities had become enjoyable family traditions.

A friend once asked, "Why are you always serving others?" I thought that was an interesting question. She continued, "Do you have some sort of void in your life that you feel the 'need' to give?" I thought that was an even more intriguing question. I had no idea that the joy of service and serving would provoke such criticism and suspicion. Although I was surprised at first, I later gained an appreciation for her questions because in my search for the answer, I learned a lot about myself.

Some time in my life's journey, perhaps as a young struggling wife and mother, I learned that it was important to me that everyone in my life--my husband, my children, my parents, my family and my friends--knew that they were important and loved by me. That is what motivates me in all that I do. It drives each decision I make, each word I choose, and each action I take.

At Christmastime, a time of giving "and" receiving, I reflect upon the lessons of the past. I have learned that it is not only important to teach our children to give, but we must also teach our children how to "receive." There is wisdom in the balance of opposites. Today, I take every opportunity I can find to try to make up for those missed lessons. Saying "thank you," when a gift is given, writing a note of thanks, and offering a hug are some of the ways I try to teach by example. Generally, when someone truly gives a gift from the heart, that person does not expect a gift in return. Accepting a gift without feeling the "guilt" of needing to give in return is an important concept that warrants contemplation.

These heart lessons began from my concerns as a mother and resulted in treasured family traditions. Every day is an opportunity to give a "Gift of Love."


DeBee said...

Beautiful story and beautiful quilt! Wonderful family sentiment. Thanks for sharing about your time visiting the nursing homes and your Polynesian shows. You have provided your children with a rich heritage!

Fannie said...

Thanks for your comments, DeBee.

Jacq said...

Thank you for sharing your story on the "gift of giving". To be able to raise our children to give and receive grace is wonderful.

Fannie said...

Thanks, Jacq. Sometimes I think we focus on one or the other, but I believe the two are equally important. What do you think?

Cindy said...

The design of this is adorable, but the colors you selected make all the difference for me.

I love your story on the "Gift of Giving". My Mom tells a story of living with her Grandmother when she was small. Every afternoon my Grandma and Mom would get dressed up and take a handmade gift or plant to someone in town that was ill or having a hardship of some sort. I always have loved that story.

Beth Macre said...

Thanks for sharing that. Its good to hear of this type of giving this time of year.

Jacq said...

I have enjoyed reading this post again.

Kelly said...

This is such a beautiful post, Fannie. I try to teach my girls the same lessons, along with teaching them the proper Southern "yes, ma'am", "no, sir" manners! it's a battle at times, but so worth it in the long run. your blog is part of your gift to others. :-)

quiltcrazygal said...

Fannie - Thank you for the wonderful posting and for being my blogging friend from the beginning. I appreciate your kindness, creativity and spirit. This was one of my favorite postings:) You are special...happy day! Jenna Louise