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Christmas Gift in August

They will come no more, the old men with beautiful manners. Ezra Pound

I realize we’re in August, but stumbling across an old sermon by my father has reminded me of this Christmas memory:

When I was young, my family did the same gift-opening routine every year. My brother and I would find presents under the tree and distribute them to the family gathered in the living room. Not surprisingly, since we were the only grandchildren, we would find more presents for ourselves than anyone else! This meant that we never had to wait too long before it was our turn to open a gift . . . but what I remember is that the gift-opening routine required me to wait more than I would have liked!

This is especially true when it was Granddad’s turn to open his present. An accountant by training, he was, by nature, deliberate and methodical. He was also exceedingly patient. The other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year, we adored this about him because he gave us his undivided attention for hours on end. And yet, by the Christmas tree, we wanted him to move more quickly, to be less deliberate, to shake the lead out!

“Granddad,” we’d complain in unison, “You’re taking too long to open your present!”

And we were absolutely correct. He did take a long time. With his little pocket knife, he gently loosened the tape so that the Christmas paper could be used to wrap another present one day. In a word, frugal. And when the gift was finally opened, he admired it with such appreciation one might think it was the first gift he had ever received. Gratitude.

In August, 2013, I remember Granddad and that he both knew and taught me that good things come to those who wait–because time is best measured, not in possessions, but with people. And, yes, I am grateful – what a gift.

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.

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