Cheryl Hughes: Offering
There are times when I hesitate before I give something to somebody, and I ask myself, “Is this good enough?” I don’t know why I do that. I don’t remember either of my parents rejecting anything I made or gave them, except the white flowers I picked from the field beside our house for my stepmom. She had a conniption and told me to “get those out of this house right now, those are chigger weeds!” I have an aversion to Queen Anne’s Lace to this day.
There is something in the heart of a child that inspires them to give an offering to those they love. When my sister, Marsha’s, daughter, Melanie, was a little girl, she picked a small bouquet of wildflowers and kept them in her room for a week, watering them every day until the day of Marsha’s birthday, when she presented them to her mother as a present. It’s one of my sister’s favorite memories.
My granddaughter, Sabria, has given me several things she made just for me, and I’ve kept every one of them. Recently, she made a felt owl from a craft kit, and presented it to me as a gift. “I messed up one of the eyes,” she said. (Sure enough, one of the eyes was a bit off-center.)
“I think it’s just beautiful!” I said. “I’m going to put it on the table with our Christmas centerpiece.”
This year’s Christmas centerpiece is made of Play Doh. Sabria and I made it a couple of weeks ago. The scene includes three snowmen—one in a Santa hat, one in a French beret, one with a red toupee and moustache—a doll with a tea set, a Christmas tree surrounded by presents, a fireplace and mantel with three red stockings, a yellow duck and a train. I made the train, the tree, the mantel and the French snowman. Sabria made everything else. We didn’t plan it. We just started creating together, and that’s what turned out. We decided to let it harden and use it for our kitchen table. Years from now, I won’t remember the beautiful centerpieces I’ve put together throughout the years, but I will never forget our Play Doh Christmas scene.
I think the first time I understood what “a gift from the heart” meant was when I heard the song “Little Drummer Boy.” I was in elementary school. Our family had gone Christmas shopping. There were eight of us at the time, my youngest brother hadn’t yet been born. We were all crowded into our car, returning home, listening to Christmas music on the radio, eating chocolate-covered cherries that my father had bought for us. “The Little Drummer Boy” came on the radio—the original version by the Simeon Chorale.
As I listened, I understood the song was saying an offering from the heart is the greatest gift you can give. Even if you were as poor as that little boy, you still had a gift you could give, and no matter how imperfect, it was good enough. It is the message of Christmas. We are the gift.