I went to 12:10 mass with my wonderful friend, Sharon. What a beautiful church! It looked more like a cathedral in Europe than a church in Bridgeport. It is 100 years old and was newly renovated 12 years ago. Gorgeous! The sad part is that I was in her wedding there 20 years ago and I have NO RECOLLECTION OF EVER BEING THERE! Bizarre!! She and I sat there with her family as we listened to the story of the Three Kings (Yes, today still is the Feast of the Epiphany!).
I began to think about a time when my kids were little. The four of them would “help me” put up the tree that Vinnie had dragged through the snow and propped up into the tree stand. They would argue over who got to put which ornaments on which branch. Melissa’s job was always to plug in the lights to test them before putting them on the tree. She really liked the colors! I should have known then that she would be my artist!
By the end of the day’s events, the lights would be on the tree, the ornaments would be up on the tree, at least two of the kids would have spilled their hot chocolate and someone would be crying. And, there would be lights strung around the living room so that the inside of our house would glow with color!
This one particular day, Stephanie wanted to put the Nativity Scene under the tree. She claimed that it was “her turn”. I explained that Jesus would not go under until Christmas Day since he technically wasn’t born yet. Melissa asked if she could put the three “wise guys” in there. I explained that they were technically called the three wise men or the three kings. She just shrugged and said “OK” as she put them under.
When Vinnie came home that evening the house was glowing. Mickee, our dog, got excited and began wagging her tail. She bumped into the tree knocking several ornaments off. Kevin tried hard to tug her away from the tree. In all the commotion, the Nativity Scene got into the mix and the pieces went flying. One of the Kings broke. His head snapped completely off of his body. Kevin picked up the two parts and with his big brown eyes looked at me. He raised the two parts up in his two hands and said, “Oh well, now we have one un-wise guy and two kings”. It was very funny!
There was such innocence in Kevin’s view of the Three Kings. These “wise guys” were not really the lead players in the Nativity story, yet the story cannot be told without them.
I thought back to what Fr. Dave had said last night. He said the Kings knew what gifts they needed to bring to the New King, but they had no idea how big, how important, and how lasting the gift would be that the New King gave to them, and to all of us.
Sometimes, the gifts we get from others are just what we need and they often come in small packages. Sometimes, they might seem so small that they get mistakenly overlooked. However, it is not the size of the gifts we get in life, it is the value we attach to them and it is the meaningfulness behind them that make them so important in our lives. Other times, it is the gifts we give to each other that mean the most.
I wonder what gifts I have given to others over the last few days or weeks?
Was it the smile I gave to the lady at the store? Was it the hug I gave the man at the funeral who could not stop crying? Was it the gift of silence as I bit my tongue instead of speaking when one of the kids told me their “great idea”? Was it the phone call to Eleanor? Was it the text to my friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while? Was it the card I sent to someone just to say “hello”?
This week, I will try to pay attention to the smaller gifts that might mean the most to someone or to myself!
Have a great week!