Before the days of children. Back when we were trying but to no avail. I worked at a local music store where I taught voice and piano. A small town place with rough hard wood floors, records hung on the wall, a constant smell of coffee, and a hub for instructors, customers, and students alike.
Everyone knew everybody and it was a much more of a home than a job for me in that season of my life. Christmas was such a festive time around that place. The store owner, who I loved dearly, put up little Christmas trees in every room and doilies over the instrument cabinets. She set out seasonal records like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and little plates of snacks for us all to enjoy.
My students usually brought in homemade cards, little songs they had written on staff paper or other cute little ‘teacher gifts’. Each one made me feel so loved and cherished. I have many of those gifts still today.
One year I taught this little boy piano who was from my church. He was their miracle baby after many years of trying, as well as the little genius type that was playing a decent version of Carol of the Bells after only his first year with me. His mom was one of those fun-loving super-sweet ladies who would stick around after lesson to ask me how I was doing. She knew of my struggles with infertility and always encouraged me to keep hope. She also had some funny stories about her week and life on their farm.
This particular year, she caught me after the lesson on a cold December day and she handed me a beautifully wrapped box with a perfect gold bow on top. It was so eye-catching I almost didn’t want to open it. I started to balk saying that her son had already given me a gift when she put her hand on mine and said, “this one is from me”. Just when my curiosity couldn’t have been piqued more she proceeded to tell me to open it when I was by myself.
Sure we were good friends but what could she give me that I had to open in private? I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention anything about those cute little unmentionables I saw on sale at Target…
After finishing up my students lessons for the day, I closed the squeaky door of my studio room, sat down on my black shiny piano bench and slowly started to remove the beautiful gold bow. Inside the wrapping was a small box. Inside the small box was a little praying Beanie Bear and a Christmas card. A little baffled, I opened the handwritten card and soon realized the significance.
Dear Jessica, it isn’t much but it meant a lot to me. I wanted you to have it. I acquired it before I had my son. We know what you are going through and are praying for you. You and your husband are very special to us. We know that with God, all things are possible! Keep the faith and your focus on him. We love you guys.
Like salve on a wound or a warm blanket over cold shoulders, her presentation, her words, and her intention soothed my deepest ache and filled me with hope. Kindness and love. Prayers and encouragement. In that season of my life, and unbeknownst to her she had given me best Christmas gift I could have ever received.
What was your best Christmas gift?