Thursday, December 18, 2014


There is not much one can say about gifts at this time of year. Most people are happy doing their own form of plotting, buying, hoping, delaying, ignoring, fretting, and wrapping - it's all about gifts. Or not. Some people give gifts to charity in friends' names. Some people wrap up last year's unused gifts and pass them on to – one hopes – not the original givers. The idea of a circle of gifts appeals to me, gifts given, unwrapped, puzzled over, and stashed away thinking inspiration will come with time. And it does! After many months of inspiring indifference, the gift on the shelf is taken down, wrapped once again, tagged, and proudly offered to a host in exchange for some social time and interesting small pieces of food. I wonder what the world record for the number of unique times a single gift traveled from hand to shelf to hand again? The gift that keeps on being given.

My dog Dover, of course, raises the giftedness quotient of the world every day just because he is an extreme meeter and greeter. He passes it on with no holds barred, to all comers (except, for some reason, German shepherds). He is an equal opportunity trinity of spirit raiser, peace maker, and tennis ball tender. And he definitely gets into the season. Good dog Dover!

News that we read, watch, or hear ranges from poignant to harrowing to horrifying, so it is hard to remember that giftedness is at the heart of creation. We receive and offer many gifts, every day, almost every moment. We take them for granted, which is okay, but every so often I find myself in the middle of a surprising gift that seemed to have an unknown, unnamed source.

This past summer, on a dank, dark, drear day at the beach, a loose scrum of over twenty people, aged two to seventy, watched and tended five kites in the sky. There was a dragon, a box kite whose parts rotated in opposite directions, a fighter kite, and, of course, the plain old variety. Kids took their turns and sat on the seawall to watch and kibitz. Others wandered by to see what was up and some stood at the ready to rescue and relaunch kites that crashed. The wind was the honored guest that day.

At the center were eighth cousins, perhaps with a once or twice removed in their relatedness. One had come from the east, bearing kites; one had come from the west, bringing interest. I am not sure where the kite-bearer had developed such a keen interest, but out west, the gift of playing with the wind had been offered by one, accepted by another, and shared on this otherwise raw day with a transient community which had wandered by and stayed a moment to watch or, better yet, to feel the pull on the line when taking a turn.

The giftedness at the center of this hours-long moment is hard to name, intangible and ephemeral. But think on it: people had taught and learned, tried and crashed, tried again and flew, and then – the learners become teachers. The children on the sea wall were absorbing the laughter and friendship, the soaring and the crashing and the relaunching of the kites – their beauty and how they worked with the wind. Gifts had been passed on through time and space and burst through the grayness of that day.

As the kites were reeled in, folded, and put away, participants and bystanders strolled off to home with a few more bits of laughter and relatedness stored up for times when they would be needed, recipients and offerers of gifts, from and to others

I can't help but be sure of that. Lines were invisible as they stretched from hand to kite, but we knew they were there.