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, hardwood floors, records hanging on the walls, and a constant smell of coffee floating in the air.
Everyone knew everybody and it felt more like home than a job.
I don’t know if it was the inviting atmosphere, the brewing coffee, or the eager students waiting around for their next lesson but the pace of life got slower when you walked through the door.
People took time for people.
They chatted about the farmer’s almanac, the store cat’s lethargic behavior, and even bigger things like cancer and infertility.
Christmastime in the store meant tiny little trees, tinsel, and antiquated doilies draped over instrument cabinets. Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole serenaded every shopper that poked in for a little browse or for a quick cup of coffee with the owner.
Students brought in homemade cards, decorated holiday cookies, and little songs they had written for their teachers.
One particular year, I got a gift from one of my student’s parents. I had taught their bright, brown-haired boy piano that year and he was making comparatively, impressive strides with his latest challenge of Carol of the Bells.
I knew this family pretty well. Corey was their miracle baby after many years of infertility. His sweet, bubbly mom would tear up as she recalled her hardships associated with that journey, but would always leave me with hope that my time was coming.
And after years of trying for our own child, hope was what I needed…
On that cold, December day, She caught me after Corey’s lesson and handed me a beautifully wrapped box.
Now, I’ve seen many beautifully wrapped packages in my time, but this wrap-job was stunning. I don’t think Macy’s could have done it any better. It had glittery gold swirled paper, a gold criss-crossed ribbon on the front, and a perfect five-loop bow on top. (I actually don’t remember how many loops, but it was pretty perfect.)
I really wasn’t sure why she was giving me a gift. Her son had already presented me with an adorable Christmas card that held a gift certificate to my favorite craft store. But before I could protest another gift, she put her hand on mine and said, “This one is from me.”
To add to my already curious thoughts, she proceeded to tell me NOT to open it until I was by myself.
Could it be those cute little unmentionables on sale at Target? Surely not.
After saying goodbye to the last student and grabbing a handmade, frosted Santa Clause,
I sat down on the piano bench and held the box.
Unable to contain my interest, I put my nibbled treat aside and removed the bow. Glitter filled my lap.
Inside the wrapping was a small box. Inside the small box was a little praying Beanie Bear and a Christmas card. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I never got into Beanie Bear collecting so I wasn’t sure what I was do with it… Perhaps it was an Ebay gem?
I took a bite of Santa’s boot and opened the card…
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.
The crumbs got stuck in my throat and I quickly realized why she told me to open it in private.
Infertility can be a quiet grief.
For a lot of women, they smile and do life while they watch their biological clock tick away. It can feel empty and hopeless. To you, the words of her card may seem quaint and little, but to me it was hope.
Her story and faith in God’s miracles. Her faith that He would do the same for me, made my head spin with excitement for my future and renewed my hope. Maybe one day I would have a little brown-haired boy or girl that I could whisk off to piano lessons, help zip up their winter coat, or buckle them into the car…
Her hope stuck to me like the glitter on my lap,
…reminding me that God was not done writing my story. And Ebay would never get my plush reminder that even in my brokenness, God was working.
I can hardly see through watery eyes to tell you that I now have three kids and I spend my free time writing about motherhood. I would never have been able to predict all the blessings God had for me, as I sat on that piano bench eating my Santa cookie. Because I could only see what was in front of me. The best gift I ever received was not the latest and greatest technology it was hope handed to me in a perfect gold box containing a plush bear and hand-scribbled card. Faith shared from one mom to another.
(This is an updated post from Dec. 12, 2016)
What was your best Christmas gift?
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