Saturday, November 21, 2009

Care Packages

I've seen lots of comments on Facebook from parents about the care packages they're sending to their college-aged children. It's that time in the term when students are getting very busy and longing for a taste of home and/or some sustenance to fuel them through late-night study sessions. In this midst of this flurry of care package posts, a friend of mine wrote, "I have discovered that you're never too old to appreciate a care package from your mom." For some reason, reading this sentence morphed the ideas "never too old" and "mom" into the conviction that I ought to send a care package to my mom. College students aren't the only ones who enjoy receiving tasty food and "thinking of you" cards in the mail, after all.

It might seem kind of silly to pay a significant sum to ship a normal batch of cookies across several states just because. It's not her birthday or a holiday or anything. Still, it seemed like a really good idea, and the satisfying feeling I got handing the box over to the shipping guy was worth every penny I paid. It's like I was in one of those Master Card commercials. "Batch of gingerbread cookies: $x. 2-day shipping to Tennessee: $x. Letting Mom know you care: Priceless." We all know that the care packages aren't about the food, after all. Showing that we care is worth so much more than the present we use to send that message.

The retail industry has already started marketing to Christmas shoppers, so I am well aware that we live in a materialistic society. Nevertheless, as a Christian I still think there is a benefit to giving people gifts, even for no particular reason. It's (relatively) easy to say, "I love you," but taking the initiative to give someone a gift, even a small batch of cookies, shows that we care enough to take that special action. I don't just want to tell Mom I love her—I want to show her. This is just one little way that I can do that. Although buying and making things for people can be nice, I don't necessarily need money to give someone I love a special treat. I can babysit their kids or do yard or house work for them. I can make gifts of quality items I have that I no longer use. I can take time to pay a special visit or to call someone I haven't talked to in a while. All of these things are like little care packages.

I still have very strong memories of some of the unexpected presents I've received. I remember how I almost cried when my college friends surprised me with a fleece pullover when I was high on stress and low on cold weather clothes and cash. I remember the cute little stuffed animal that one of my roommates gave me for no particular reason. I'm still touched by the time my dad sent me flowers because he was out of town on a special day in my life. I appreciate all the recipes that my coworker has shared with me because she thought I'd be interested in them, and I'm still warm and fuzzy over the time I came home and my husband had done a bunch of my chores for me. I cherish mix CDs given to me by friends and special outings with loved ones.

Because I have these special memories, I can get positively giddy at the chance to provide my loved ones with comparable experiences. I love giving gifts. I enjoy seeking out items that will please my loved ones, and I relish the chance to see their eyes light up when I surprise them with a gift they like. It's wonderful to have a chance to remind others that I think they're special, that they're worth the effort I put into surprising them with gifts. It's true that I can't afford to give all of my loved ones really nice presents all the time. Still, there are so many ways I can make special efforts to show them I care. I hope that I stay motivated to look for special chances to show others that I care in everyday life. It's never a bad time to send a care package.

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