father and son standing in field

The giving of a memory

Home Front: Sure, you can go on extravagant vacations and create memories for your family. But can you make a memory today — the kind that can be conjured up down the road and bring comfort to everyone?

Kendra
I was once told that the secret to successfully choosing a Christmas gift was to select something you would like to receive personally. There are some obvious flaws with that theory. For example, I’ve never wanted a radar gun to clock the speed of my pitches or a pair of cowboy boots — two very popular gifts that appeared under our tree years ago.

John
Even though the gift-giving advice Kendra received has its imperfections, you can understand the premise. When you give a gift you’d like to receive, the odds increase that you’ve chosen wisely.

One gift that fits that criteria is the gift of memories. Obviously, you can create a budget-busting memory by taking your family of 12 on an exotic cruise down the Amazon River. I can see how that might create an unforgettable memory, but it also has the potential to exceed the gift-giving budget for the year (or the decade, or even longer).

I’m thinking of an affordable example; and I have one specific memory from years ago — one memory that created another.

Kendra
Almost 30 years ago, John had been gone for several weeks, serving in the Middle East as a U.S. Air Force Reserve pilot. It was the beginning of the Middle East crisis, and our boys were preparing to enter sixth grade, fourth grade and kindergarten. Having Dad so far away and possibly in danger was unnerving for everyone.

One evening after the two younger boys had gone to bed, our eldest made a strange request. “Mom, tell me about when Dad was riding Fury and the horse got too close to the barb wire fence and Dad got his thigh caught on the barb wire and he still has a scar there today.” He wanted to hear a memory.

Friends, what he had just said is absolutely all I know about that event. Instead of simply hearing his request, I heard his heart, which I believe was saying, “I really miss Dad, and if you’ll tell me this memory — the one he always tells me — I think it will help.”

And so, I did. “One day Dad was riding Fury, and the horse got too close to the barb wire fence, and Dad got his thigh caught on the barb wire, and he still has a scar there today.”

I shared that memory and received one we had just created — the memory of that important time when I was able, in a small way, to comfort our son.

John
As we celebrate the birth of Christ this season, our hope is to inspire you to watch for opportunities to give the gift of a precious memory. That memory may take the form of a word of encouragement, the voice of experience, or more significant, a word of prayer. All those gifts are able to bless the receiver and the one who gives — which, by the way, has been rumored to be the secret to successfully choosing a gift.

Merry Christmas and blessings from our home to yours.

John and Kendra Smiley farm near East Lynn, Ill. Email [email protected], or visit kendrasmiley.com.

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