During my visit with my grandpa this past weekend, I received the usual care package: thoughtfully photocopied articles and jokes (which have been dubbed "required reading" by family members), an old flour sifter, my late grandma's cake pan set (the cool kind with the removable bottoms), a large Tupperware bowl, and a thick stack of coupons.
Grandpa has been doing this ever since I can remember. Whenever we saw him, he would always enter with the familiar brown paper grocery bag in tow...full of these sorts of things. In the past, I admit, I was not very appreciative of the calendars that he had gotten from the Cancer Society as a thank you for his recent donation, the notepads with his employer's letterhead at the top, the plastic rosaries, the magnets, or the old books about the Grand Canyon. I would politely accept them and then toss them aside if they weren't very interesting to me.
In the past few years, I have gradually come to realize how important this ritual is...for my grandpa as well as us on the other end. For him, it is a way to express his love, to show us that he is thinking of each one of us and gathering things that he thinks we may enjoy or find useful. He is giving not cheesy, secondhand bric-a-brac (always wanted to use that term) but bits of himself...of his time, thoughts and energy. He is teaching us not to recycle old junk, but to be thoughtful of others and to show them they are loved in practical ways.
I wish I had figured out long ago the valuable lessons in these offerings...Let us attend
Christ has showed us this very thing...Love is practical. Hugs, laundry, phone calls and yes, giving old flour sifters all show love...they are actions of dying to one another by giving of our time, thoughts and selves.
Thank you, Grandpa, for the much needed reminder...and the coupons.