I’d never seen a more beautiful package. The black bag was an interesting octagonal shape with a bold floral print. The burgundy and gold tissue paper flowed from every side. It was dramatic and inviting. Best of all… it was for me!
The last few months had been a blur of baby blue gift bags with miniature ball caps and plush toy cars. Though I opened each one, they were not intended just for me like this one clearly was. I was so excited to see what was inside.
I picked up the golden cord and carefully began looking for a card or some other evidence of who had delivered this sweet surprise to my doorstep, then started pushing aside the silky layers with increasing gusto. I let out a sigh and felt the tears well up as I pulled out the small gift hidden inside… a black Dicky*. Now I knew why there was no card; there was no need for one. I knew instantly who had left this for me and more importantly, I knew why.
Mrs. Pat and her husband had taken Wayne and I under their wing, sharing their wisdom while sharing their time. We learned so much from them about marriage, parenting, and discipleship. The more I got to know Mrs. Pat, the more I liked her. We had a lot in common including our passion for the holiday season. She and I had howled watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation together the previous December. Our husbands chuckled, but we roared. When Randy Quaid, playing Cousin Eddie, drank eggnog from a moose-shaped cup while wearing a thin, white v-neck sweater with a black Dicky showing through, we couldn’t contain ourselves any longer. The movie had to be paused but our friendship was on fast forward. We had bonded in the best way possible, a shared sense of humor.
Since my son’s birth a few weeks before, I had slipped into postpartum depression. With a perfectionist personality, little experience with babies and the lack of sleep brought on by my constant fears, I was unable to find my way back to my confident, capable self. Family and friends were worried but at a loss as to how to help me. Even in my fog, I saw their struggle as they searched for words to encourage me and ways to support me. It was an incredibly painful time for all of us.
Knowing that I loved to laugh and laugh hard, Mrs. Pat played the wild-card. She decided to go for a gift only she and I would truly understand. She may have hesitated thinking of other more practical, even spiritual, gifts she could bring me but she took the chance that a good laugh might be what I needed most and she was so right. The laugh became a cry and the cry became a wail. All the tension melted away as I sat down on my driveway and boohoo-ed with my pretty package nested in my lap. It was the beginning of my return to reality.
I will never be able to explain to you how this simple gift changed my life that day but I would like to share one of things I’ve learned from Mrs. Pat’s expression of love in case you have someone in your life that needs a little extra love and you’re unsure how to get that message across to them.
Divorce, miscarriage, job loss, prodigal children, a disappointment, a diagnosis… There are so many times when words don’t come easy and there isn’t even a Hallmark card to help convey what’s inside your heart. Try to remember that though the circumstances may be complicated, people are not. We all just want to know that we matter to somebody, that we are loved, especially during the toughest times of our lives.
You can speak to your friend’s heart even when words fail. Take the risk. You may say or do something wrong, but any effort you put forth is better than avoiding the situation altogether. Your friend will likely see your love for them in any attempt you make, no matter how small, awkward or simple. Find a way to connect with them in a way that suits your relationship. Remind them of good times and reassure them that better times are indeed still ahead. Your little gesture might be the very one they remember as bringing them through!!* A dicky is defined as a man’s false shirt front, especially one word with full evening attire.
Postscript: Timothy is now 17, preparing for his senior year of homeschool. I delivered two more babies without a hint of postpartum. Rebekah is now 16 and Sarah is 13. We recently adopted twin girls. Hope and Faith will turn 2 this month. Mrs. Pat and I rarely see each other face to face but we do our best to keep up with each other on Facebook, often counting down the days to Christmas and sharing a laugh. Her daughters, who’ve always shared their momma with me so generously, are all grown up with beautiful families of their own. In fact, one has a very successful blog and even asked me to guest post