My Imperfect Neighbor Gift


It's no secret I'm not a baker (proof here and here). Sure, I make cookies with my kids, but if I have to bake something for someone over 12 years old and it has to taste good AND look good AND be packaged in something other than a paper plate and a ziplock bag, I'm panicked. I'm not crafty either. That's why Christmas neighbor gifts stress me to the max. Some years they don't get done, and I know that's ok. But there are some years when I KNOW I need to make a few visits and spread some love.

This is one of those years. Especially with the #LightTheWorld campaign, I knew our family needed to make a special effort to visit some neighbors. I asked my kids to pray individually and listen for one name of someone who was lonely and could use a visit. They each came up with a different name and carefully colored cards for them. As they worked, I cleaned the kitchen and tried to think of SOMETHING to bake. We were out of eggs, low on butter, and I had nothing (sprinkles? candy canes? red and green m&ms?) to make it look Christmasy. After 20 minutes of scouring Pinterest for answers and self esteem, I knew how this would end. We would never make it out the front door.

I realized the treats were holding me back from the visiting. I was making it too hard. Lonely people like treats, but they need people. Could we possibly make visits without treats or a Christmastime?

That seemed weird. But my mantra lately has been "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Going empty handed wasn't perfect, but was good. Just go, Whitney. Just go.

I decided that instead, we could sing a song. That would be our gift. Tell me to frost a cookie and I'm stressed; but tell me to gather my kids around the piano and teach harmony parts and arrange songs-- and I'm in. THAT excites me. THAT is work I can do. THAT is a gift I can give. So we bundled up and headed out. My kids were mortified to be going without treats (one even said- and I quote- "I HATE being a singing family!!")


At the first house (of a darling, sprightly 90 year old widow), I explained that we wanted to sing her a song-- that this was our gift, along with a handmade card. Admittedly, I did feel dumb not handing a plate of cookies or a clever dollar store item with a cute poem. But THIS WAS ALL I HAD TO GIVE this year. She was (of course) delighted and spent a few moments telling us the story behind the delicate blue blanket draped over her rocking chair.


We continued on our way, visiting each home my children prayed about, and they ended up loving it (like I knew they would). I'm not a fudge connoisseur or a sewing pro. These are not my gifts. But I can still make visits and offer a gift I DO have.


It reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas songs:

What can I give Him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would give a lamb
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part.
What can I give Him?
Give Him my heart.

But today, I rewrote the song as follows:

What can I give Him?
Lame as I am?
If I were a baker,
I would give some flan
If I were a crafter,
I'd hot glue all day long
But I am just a singer
So I will give a song.

*takes a bow*

Jesus meets us where we are. He accepts our imperfect offerings. And so do the widows, the lonely, and the sad. Wishing you a happy season of lighting the world and loving your neighbors, even if you go perfectly empty handed.


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