I have a friend that trades with me. It’s taken us four years to get to this point.
We have sons close in age so on Tuesdays we swap the boys.
This week, my friend is super busy with work. Still, she made it a point to take time to ask me to watch her son for 45 minutes so she could get some alone time. I was so glad to help, and 45 minutes? That’s nothing.
Dale and I loaded the one-year old boys up and took them to the park.
A rather packed and humdrum day began to glow as we watched F and S giggle over the heights of the swing. We pushed them up into the last rays of the sun, warming them from the chilly playground.
We trotted them over the bridge to the library’s warmth where we played Dora on the computer and put books into the child’s book drop over and over.
Before I knew it, before we’d had a chance to really explore the millions of legos strewn in the playroom, my friend came back, nails sleek and shellac’d ready to claim her little one.
It was when I saw her smile I realized she had given to us.
She gave us the gift of receiving our gift, and receiving well, with grace and gratitude.
We gave her time, to be a mom who (in her words) is safe for one more day from mom jeans and a scrunchy.
In Sally’s recent post “Is Christmas All About Money?” she covers the many types of gifts. Notice, again, how wonderful gifts like these can’t be wrapped in paper and bows. Consider how difficult it really is to give things like:
- my time
- my attention
- my questions
- my thoughtfulness
- my words
- my health (if I am spiritually, mentally and relationally healthy I make for a much better friend!)
You could even title this list “the gifts of openness” for each of them require friendships with safety, peace, mercy, joy, hope–all the things Jesus was meant to bring into our lives.
The last few weeks, I had a S.O.S. need for close girlfriends. I realized that those I actually called for help, those closest to me, were women I can cry with and not fear judgment or quick-fix instruction.
They are friends who rarely misunderstand or offer, as Sal calls it “unsolicited advice. They are friends who encourage my instincts, validating my thoughts and feelings.”
We need to ask and receive to see how much friends can give.
Think about your friendships. Who can you be honest enough to cry with? Who can you cry with and not feel like you must apologize for your tears? Who can you share a need with so that they can fill?
This last one can be tricky because we don’t want to demand our friends meet all our needs. Here are some ways you can give the gift of openness to your friends this Christmas.
- My week is so crazy, I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t get some time to myself. I was thinking of getting a manicure tomorrow. Are you available for me to drop (insert child/s names here) for 45 minutes?
- I have company coming tomorrow and it would be a huge help if I didn’t have (insert child or dog’s name here) running around my legs. Any chance I could drop him by your place for two hours tomorrow?
- I’ve missed cross-country skiing (insert hobby/art/sport) so much. I was thinking we could both go cross-county skiing if we took the kids in the chariots. I’m free Tuesday morning. Any chance you could join me at Catamount?
- My friend/husband/family member just leveled me. I think I need someone to tell me if I’m going crazy. Do you have a moment for me to tell you what happened?
- My husband and son are sick and I need to get to the store. I was wondering if I text you a list of groceries if you could pick them up for me? I can swing by this afternoon and get them.
For me, it’s an honor to know a friend is close enough and open enough with me to ask. It comes as a great compliment. It means that I make them feel like they can be honest about that they need.
And Christmas, if anything, must begin with our acceptance of gifts bigger and better than we ever thought possible.