Let’s Taste and Wear Our Gifts This Christmas

Let’s Taste and Wear Our Gifts This Christmas

A young man was wandering about a desert and came across a spring of crystal clear water.  The water was so clear and delicious that he drank as much as he could, then filled his leather canteen to the brim.  He would bring back some to the tribal leader who had been his teacher.

After a long, hot journey, he finally offered the water to the elder.  The teacher took a deep drink, smiled amiably, and thanked his former student for the excellent water.  The young man returned to his home with a happy heart.

Later, the elder let another student taste the water. He spit it out, saying it was terrible. Apparently, over the long journey in the old leather container, it had become stale. The student challenged his teacher: “Master, the water was awful. Why did you pretend to like it?” The teacher replied:

You only tasted the water, whereas I tasted

the gift. The water was simply the container

for an act of loving-kindness.”

– an Arabian legend


I never thought that the thing I would remember best about my Grandmother was the ugly scarf she wore.

My Grandmother was a queen of knitters. She would often knits sweaters hats, and mittens of all kinds. When I was about 8 years old, she even tried to teach me the art. But it was next to impossible to see what she was doing through the blur of her flying hands and clacking needles. A few of her could have put clothing factories out of business!

I did manage to knit a scarf, though. For days before Christmas I sat at work with my jumbo size ball of super lumpy brown and black yarn and the fattest knitting needles that I could find. I got tired when the thing (it didn’t really look like anything) was about two feet long, so that’s as long as it got. I made colorful yarn poms for each corner and wrapped it up for Christmas.

When the big day came, she opened the wrapper and was delighted! For a year or two after, every time she came to visit after that she would wear it, even though it was barely long enough to go around her neck. It had giant holes where I had missed stitches and was about the ugliest scarf you’ve seen. 

As a child, I thought she wore it because she liked it, but with my now adult wisdom (if you can call it that) I see that she wore to show her love, gratitude, and encouragement for me. She didn’t wear a lumpy brown and black garment with giant holes and bright pom poms. She wore a gift.

Like the teacher in the story who saw love in rancid water, she saw my love in an atrocity of a scarf

As another Christmas ambles toward us, it has come to my mind that receiving things will never really bring much happiness, until we consider what is behind them. A gift is far more than the thing that is given; it is a part of the one who gave it; a symbol of their loving kindness. So even though the things given may be rancid water or a lumpy scarf, may we taste and wear gifts this Christmas.

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