It used to be that the Christmas season didn’t start until the day after Thanksgiving. But now, retailers bring out their holiday decorations the day after Halloween, and do their best from that day forward to convince us that the only way to express of our love to others is by buying them expensive gifts.
But if buying expensive gifts is the way to show our love and commitment, what kind of Christmas present to you buy for someone who’s dying, for whom tangible gifts are so obviously irrelevant? That’s the question Tracy Clark-Flory asks in a very moving article she wrote last week called “All I Want for Christmas is Nothing.”
Tracy’s mother is facing final-stage lung cancer. She writes that her father has never liked advertisements that equate expensive gifts with love, but especially this year as he watches his wife die. Tracy’s dad never gave his wife luxury cars or diamonds during their marriage. Nevertheless, he has been there to:
1. Push her wheelchair when she was unable to walk;
2. Cut off her hair when it started falling out during chemotherapy;
3. Massage her head;
4. Go to a wig shop with her;
5. Learn to cook after three decades of marriage;
6. Give her shots through a layer of belly fat; and
7. And sit near her in a hospital bed watching TV.
These are the gifts that money can’t buy. These are the gifts that endure. Tracy continues:
Gifts are so obviously irrelevant this year – but, really, they’re irrelevant every year. My mom – the one who is dying, the one whose mutated cells are waging war on her own body – never got a diamond ring or a luxury car in her 32 years of marriage, and yet these days she cries and says things like, “I just feel so lucky to have had my two loves.”
What a beautiful story this time of year to remind us that love is truly the greatest gift we can give.