The perfect gift

It’s Christmas Eve and what consumes the thoughts of many today will be present_thumbbeautifully wrapped or bagged by tomorrow, if they aren’t already. The Christmas season for most of us is largely about the buying, giving, and receiving of the perfect gifts. Of course, as a Christian I understand the reason for the season is the truly perfect Gift of Jesus…God coming to man and becoming a man to sacrifice his life as a ransom for us all.

But the gifts that I have been thinking a lot about lately, ones that are immensely valuable to the receiver yet cost nothing, are the gifts of affirmation, encouragement, and praise. How precious are the spoken or written words from those you love expressing how much you mean to them or what a wonderful person you are.

This is the gift I want to give my husband Al this year. He asked me not to buy him anything and, except for a few stocking stuffers, I honored his request. I made the same request of him, and there’s a huge box with my name on it under the tree, along with several other smaller ones. But that’s just him – he loves to give. And that’s one of the things I love about him.

Not only does he love to buy me gifts, but he loves to cook for me – he’s a much better chef than I. And when the meal is complete, he’ll plate it and deliver it to me while I lounge in front of the TV. “I’ll do this,” he’ll say, “you go and relax.” Sometimes, just because he knows I love them, he’ll make onion rings on a Sunday afternoon while we’re watching football. I know you’ve never had onion rings as crunchily delicious as these. Then, he’ll even clean up the sizeable mess he’s made in the kitchen.

The effort my husband makes in assembling, frying, and delivering the perfect onion ring is indicative of the way he works in everything. Al is absolutely the hardest-working man I know or have ever known. When there’s a job to be done, there’s no procrastinating or half-hearted effort. He just gets on it, puts his all into it, and has it finished before most men would have even started. If they even planned to start. Because most men wouldn’t even attempt to do the things my husband has done. You can see the fruit of his awesomeness in what he’s built here.

When there’s no construction to be done or hot water heater to be replaced or appliance to be repaired (my husband can fix practically anything), you might find Al washing the kitchen floor or the blades on the ceiling fan (those can get so grimy). He is confident enough in his masculinity not to think twice about helping with the housework. He even bought himself a pink shirt once, and I told him then what I’ll tell you now: it takes a real manly man to pull that off.

But wait…there’s more! Our four children have benefited greatly from having a father who affirms them and spends time with them. He has never berated or belittled them but instead has freely told them he loves them, in word and in deed. What an incredibly valuable gift that is to them, and to their mother as well. And he’s been a great source of fun…Al is definitely a fun-loving and funny guy. His outgoing personality and charming wit have garnered him many friends. We can’t go anywhere it seems without running into someone he knows.

His charm is probably what won me in the first place, and what helps keeps our relationship fresh. He is quick with a compliment and lets me know regularly, by the things he says and does, that he still finds me attractive after 33 years.

And have I mentioned his strength? My husband is a manly construction worker type. (I know, ladies…you can’t stand it.) I love resting my head on his strong shoulders and running my hands over his muscular arms. Yes, I still find him attractive too.

There is more I can share about this man I married, but suffice it to say that though we’ve had our struggles as a couple, I am grateful to God for him everyday. And I am grateful to Al for loving me and giving of himself so sacrificially for my good.

Merry Christmas, darling.