The best gifts are the ones we give.
I received a lot of really wonderful gifts this Christmas. While I feel grateful for them, I know that the very best part about this past Christmas was a special gift Ryan, Samarah and I gave.
This gift involves a story and a higher purpose, so I couldn’t hardly wait to share it!
A few years back, I mentioned Ba Ngaoi to you (= so far back that all my pictures have broken links = sorry!)
“Ba Ngaoi” is grandma in Vietnamese. She is a grandmother now, but she has always been my Godmother, Lan.
Lan came to the United States with my uncle at a young age, after the war. She has been here ever since. Not only is she my Godmother, but she has always been someone with whom I’ve been closest to.
Last year, we found out she would be taking another trip back home to Vietnam (she goes every couple of years or so) this February. I really, really wanted to go….so much so that I had her send me her itinerary so I could look into flights. After considering the time of year she’s going (for the Vietnamese New Year = which is nothing like our New Years) and the fact that we already have a big year of travel ahead, I decided now was not the time. (I pray the next trip is the time.)
And even though we decided that this would not be the trip for me to take with her, we knew that giving her money to take along with for her family and/or anyone she knows there that could use a little extra was something we absolutely wanted to do.
Our money goes far there, and I have heard stories of the pain and struggles from my aunt.
In America, we take so much for granted.
Christmas Eve day, we (Ryan + me) wrote out a check for my aunt. I spent a few moments writing a card for her. I explained how I could not travel with her this time, but that we wanted her to take the money along and use it for whatever good she could do for family and/or friends. I signed it from all 3 of us, and placed this at the bottom:
p.s. Bring us home a Vietnamese baby from the orphanage.
(Ah, a whole other story for a whole other day:) )
It’s tradition. Each Christmas Eve, we do the obligatory picture. It used to be my cousin Kim + her daughter, Emma + Lan + myself. Over the years it grew to daughter 2, Sophie, and now to Samarah.
We did our picture.
Once it was over, I said,
Lan, please sit next to me on the couch.
She was confused but did so.
I had Ryan all lined up to capture the following moments.
I handed her the card. She opened it and began to read it.
Her lips began to quiver. Her eyes swelled.
At this point, everyone was watching her, and I think she was slightly embarrassed.
She covered her face with the card and behind it tears fell and to me she said,
No, why? Why are you doing this? Sarah, thank you.
Tears filled my own eyes.
At Christmas time, Ryan and I try to give everything we can and we like to do it for people who would never expect it, but not everyone is as heartfelt as my aunt Lan was in those moments.
And in that moment, I knew we had done something amazing for her.
I knew the money would go far…..with material possessions and extended love somewhere, in some way, in a place we’ve never seen.
These are the moments, the gifts and the love I’ll remember forever.
You will heal. I will help.