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More than 25 years ago, a friend gave me a decorative ceramic tile for my kitchen. The tile is a trivet that protects the counter from hot plates and pots. This little tile has survived several moves, been glued back together and lost the loop on its back for hanging, but it remains in a place of honor.

On the face of the tile are two lines from the end of a poem called “The Art of Living.” Even today, these words touch me deeply because there is something precious in being able to give something to those we encounter. I remember loathing occasions where I was expected to bring something to share because I always focused on my lack. I reached a turning point when I started looking at what I DID have.

The gift of time is a most precious thing. It takes very little in material wealth to be able to make someone else feel special. One of my children still has memories of the week that he fell asleep each night listening to the sound of a used sewing machine chugging along. He was surprised with a super-hero costume, complete with a cape. A couple of months ago, I was organizing a closet and found where he had kept the mask and a shirt I’d made him those many years ago.

My grandmother used to spend several weeks each year crocheting treasures that were given to her dear ones at Christmas. She was never rushed or pressed and she made creative use of the materials she had.

Creativity requires me to first be grateful for what I DO have and then ask myself how I might share it. Only then can I focus on the possibilities. Used and free items can be given a second life by personalizing them with a coat of paint or other decorative items. How many kids do you know that would love a custom-painted bicycle or a hand-stenciled chair? Because creativity requires a little planning, you’ll have to train yourself to look for opportunities. What skills do you have? Can you get a small item and add to it? Are there some materials on sale in the off season that can be used later? Is there someone that would benefit from your extras? Do you know someone that would love to give their old craft items, sewing supplies or tools a good home?

As I’ve gotten older, it has been my goal to not just make the special moments happen for my children, but to involve them in the preparation so that they too enjoy the gift of giving. While I might be learning a particular craft/skill, my children are helping design labels and packaging and then enjoying the fun of sharing those gifts with those we encounter. Often, we make items with no particular person in mind. We might spend a couple of hours baking cookies while we enjoy trying to guess who will cross our paths that we might bless.

We’ve found that it is great fun to give things to people that weren’t expecting it. . . . and I believe that you become richer in the process.

Oh, the poem? Here it is. I’ve not been able to discover the author’s name.

To touch the cup with eager lips and taste, not drain it;
To woo and tempt and count a bliss, and not attain it;
To fondle and caress a joy, yet hold it lightly;
To watch the sunset in the west without regretting;
To hail its advent in the east, the night forgetting;
To smother care in happiness, and grief in laughter;
To hold the present close, not questioning the hereafter;
To have enough to share, to know the joy of giving;
To thrill with all the sweets of life -- that's living.


cowgal jazzy said...

Awesome! Speechless...

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