I sang for church on Christmas Eve and enjoyed having my family share this time with me along with two of my dearest friends. After mass, a new friend of mine – one unique person that literary came to our door in my darkest time of need following Shawn’s death – approached me with her husband, two children, parents, sisters and their families. I was astounded to see this amazing group of people at my church to support me. The coordination of such a surprise plan during the craziness of Christmas schedules told me beyond the use of words how much they care especially knowing that some in the group had nearly two hours to drive home. Their presence became my comfort and calm for the evening.
This was the beginning of my realization that sometimes the best surprise gifts do not come in packages or bags with bows and ribbons.
Sitting on the couch next to my grandma Christmas Day, while she rubbed my feet, just like when I was a little girl took me back in time. Fascinatingly, thirty years later I am still put in a trance to relax by the gentleness of her grandma touch.
After three days of family celebration, I arrived home to surprise presents on my doorstep from a very thoughtful neighbor, a distant friend, the police department and an anonymous giver. As the holiday stretched among various invitations, my emotions ran deep and then deeper almost as if the haze of losing Shawn had permanently returned. The spell was broken when I opened one fine gift of hope; an ornament in the shape of the word, “BELIEVE” beckoning me to trust in something far more steadfast than my feelings.
Back home, unpacking from all the festivities, I ran my car up to the carwash where the convenient store clerk addressed me, “Are you who I think you are?” I smiled at the irregular greeting and said, “I am not sure.” He then guessed, “Mrs. Silvera?” “Yes.” I confidently responded. He continued, “I was an Explorer for the police department” while circling around the counter to give me a big hug and asking, “How are you? Are you doing ok?” I was pleasantly surprised to meet this friendly face during my spontaneous errand.
Notably, my favorite presents this year, do not bear material significance. The gifts that gave me most meaning such as attendance, encouragement, care, touch, and recognition -have priceless tags of value. It makes me think that sometimes the best gifts are the ones we don’t even realize we are giving. These gifts come from a genuine heart and for all who are involved could be classified as a surprise. When we give from ourselves, we cannot contain our gift in a box. We can only wrap what we have in love and hope it serves its purpose. I know this year for me much purpose was served by much love that was given.