I bit back the automatic "no" that begged for release. After a typical day of teaching, mothering, and managing the activities of a noisy, busy household, I wanted to curl up on the couch with my newest biography. I hungered for silence and stillness--food for my creative mind.
"Just one more." My four year old added her big blue eyes to the drama.
My mind shouted that I'd given all day. I'd already sacrificed enough. From the piles of laundry I'd folded to the never-ending task of breaking up squabbles and training my children's character. I had even planned a treasure hunt for our special Advent activity and cooked red and green food for every meal--including green scrambled eggs.
My body ached and my eyes smarted from exhaustion. It would be so easy to say no, to tuck my littlest ones into their beds and have an hour of quietness before the older kids arrived home from art class and basketball practice.
I longed to glance away, to ignore the upturned faces waiting for my decision. But my heart compelled me to look at each of them, into their eyes and to see the desire glowing there--the desire to spend just a few more precious minutes with their busy mom.
I took a deep breath and settled myself back against the bed. They smiled and snuggled against me.
"Would you sing it, Mommy?" my six year old asked.
Only then did I realize which book he'd slipped into my hands. I stifled another weary sigh. "Isn't there another book we could read?"
"No. I like this one."
I stared at it for a moment, then opened it. "Okay, sweetie." I whispered a prayer and began singing. "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. . ."
By the last page, with the twelve drummers drumming and eleven pipers piping, we were laughing at our bumbling efforts. And when I gazed at the delight upon their faces, I knew I'd given my true loves a gift that night. . .
The gift of me and my time.
Amidst the craziness of writing and every day life, especially during the Christmas season, it's easy to forget to give the gifts that really matter the most.
What are you giving the true loves of your life?