I have been uninspired lately and not really able to formulate any thing that I felt would be worth sharing. But last night, my kids taught me something I should share. In my extended family, my children and thier cousins have a tradition of exchanging names and purchasing a 10 dollar gift for one of thier cousins.
I thought this was a great reason for me to hit the shop and build something that we could give. I started searching for ideas, looking for patterns imagining how I could use some of the nicer pieces of wood I had set aside for special projects. My kids drew the names of their 8,9 and 15 year old female cousins, so I started looking for gifts that they might like.
As time passed, I started to rule out some of the more challenging projects ( I didn’t want to do a bad job) and then some of the more expensive projects (I didn’t want to disregard the 10 dollar limit) then I started to rule out some of the projects that just didn’t seem like fun for me to make. After a while I had decided what the projects would be and announced it to my kids at supper.
I was shocked by the look on thier faces. Each of them just silently stared at thier plates. This is an rarity at our house. Meals are beautifully noisy and active and bare more of a resemblance to feeding time in the lion’s den than high tea. My middle son, who is so wise, queitly added, “that sounds good dad, but I was hoping I could pick out the gift.” I quickly added “Well, I was wanting you to help me make them…” He smiled at me and said “Sure, that sounds like fun”
You see my son’s Christmas giving had already started. While he wanted to experience the whole act of giving for his own satisfaction, he was willing to surrender that so that I wouldn’t be disappointed. A quick look around the table showed me that he wasn’t alone in feeling this way. I had missed the point.
There is a process of giving and the product that you actually give. As I age, I realize more and more that the process involved in giving is actually what changes product into a gift. My son had beautifuly shown me that there is a miracle involved in every true gift. There is a moment where you suspend what is in your best interest and focus on the one who is recieving the present and think only of them. In giving a true gift, your hopes are all about the experience of the giving and recieving, the product itself is quite secondary. That miracle is when our perspective changes and we can see past the product that will eventually break, rot or rust and see the process that will last forever in both of our hearts. It has been suggested that we store more of these process gifts and less of the product gifts… I tend to agree. I have a few things that helps me remember my mother and father, but it is the memories that comfort and sooth me, not the actual items.
I encourage you to seek the miracle of the giving process this Christmas in your plans for your workshops. I know that we have started with a blank slate and the kids are exploring the “process perspective” in placing thier cousins ahead of thier own needs in seeking a true gift. I know that regardless of how humble the gift or simple the product, that my kids will have walked away better people because of how how much they cared. You see, it is my beleif that the greatest gift ever given, arrived 2000 years ago in a humble stable. I think that the process that went into giving that gift took thousands of years and the Giver focused soley on you and me without any hesitation for how much it may cost. When I see my kids reliving that kind of total love, it fills me with joy. It is a gift that will remain in my soul forever regardless of what they decide to give thier cousins
-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.