When I finally dragged myself from my post-Christmas slumbers, I opened the gifts I'd been given (I now realise that one is missing from the photo but I'll include it). Each is, in it's unique way, beyond price, and utterly perfect.
The jigsaw - something not available in the shops, a photo of my sister's children having fun together. I will enjoy a quiet afternoon or evening making it, and thinking about my family, both those in the picture and those elsewhere.
A tray cloth (not in the photo) from a very, very elderly lady who has lived well and loved much. Always trying to make more of a lady of me, I suspect, as previous gifts have included lacy edged cloths and beaded coasters. When I use it, I will remember her, and other older women (and men) who, in my years in ministry, have blessed me with their love, prayers and even their challenges!!
Two boxes of Turkish Delight, one from my sister, one from a dear friend and chemo-buddy who faces endless challenges with resilience, humour and grace. Turkish Delight is probably the Marmite of sweets, and I love it. These two boxes will last me for absolutely ages, - will remind me of the importance of family and friends and that silver linings may be found, even in adversity.
An M&S gift card from my Mum. Last year I did my Mum's Christmas shopping; this year I ensured funds were there for someone at the care home to do it with/for her. At a future date, I will visit one of the larger stores, treat myself, and think of my Mum whose love and selflessness have so shaped my life.
An Oxfam Gift of education for a girl - perfect! A gift from special friends whose support and encouragement (as well as forbearance at times) I greatly appreciate. The gift of giving is so important, and I could not be happier with their choice. My parents' valuing of education, often sacrificial, enabled me to flourish - to be associated with offering this gift to another girl is absolutely brilliant.
I love all my gifts, and more I love the givers. I am truly blessed to need nothing, and to want nothing. Maybe this all sounds a little bit 'Pollyanna' but it's true. When in 2010 I feared I might be facing my final Christmas, something inside me changed for good, and for the good - life is the greatest gift at Christmas. Life full of love, enriched by laughter, underpinned by hope... these cannot be bought, are beyond price; these really are mine again this year.