Monday, December 27, 2010

The Gift

Christmas in my house was pretty normal this year. My sister making coffee, my dad watching the television, and my mother running around nervously. The cats were laying on the presents under a tree with only two out of the three strands of lights actually working. We all had breakfast and started opening presents.

I got some gift cards, wine, and some exotic tea - a pretty good stash all things considered. Just when I thought I had unwrapped all my presents my brother came out of his room with his gifts for everyone.  While some people might relish in giving perfectly wrapped gifts, my brother always wraps his in newspaper. He is too practical to waste money on wrapping paper or gift tags.

He proudly walked around the living room handing out his presents.

In years past I've gotten things from my brother like shampoo or body wash - "girly things" that seem like he picked them out because he had no idea what else to get. But this year he placed my gift in my hands and right away I could tell this was something different. No sure what to expect, I tore through the newspaper. 

I stood there completely surprised. He got me a book. It was called "The Secret Language of Birthdays".

My brother and I have struggled with our relationship most of our lives. As children we fought constantly, and although we rarely argue as adults, we have little in common. He is athletic and practical, I am artistic and intuitive.

Since I was a teenager I've been drawn to astrology and I enjoy doing it as a hobby. My brother, being the practical person that he is, has never fully bought into the idea. Usually when I bring it up he rolls his eyes or avoids the topic all together.  All those years I never thought he was listening.

I stood there with the book in my hands and started flipping through pages.

"You don't have that book already, do you?" he asked timidly
"No...I don't..."

Still stunned I climbed into a chair and began reading. I found the two pages about my birthday. "August Thirteenth: The Day of the Long Odds"

"Normally 13 is not an unlucky number, per se, but those born on August 13 at various times in their lives have to face seemingly insurmountable odds in their fight to come out on top and stay there. Securing a desired position, struggling to reach a personal goal, or searching for a fulfilling relationship are lifelong challenges for them, Whether born unusual or made unusual through circumstance, August 13 people have a highly unique personality and outlook on life."

Those two pages went on to describe my personality very accurately. What I found so striking was that most of the characteristics that were brought up were things that had come up for me personally in recent days. Suddenly, my personal struggles felt like a purpose, not a curse. I was given a great deal of willpower and drive along with the spirt to not only withstand, but to succeed. I think I needed to be reminded of that.

I sat there for several minutes with the book in my lap. My family was opening presents all around me, but I didn't notice. My eyes started to fill with tears. Not only did get a beautiful gift, it ended up being exactly what I needed without even realizing it. It was also made more meaningful by the fact that it was given to me by my brother. I never would have thought he would have gone so far outside of himself to get me something I would enjoy so much.

I finally looked up from the book. I watched my brother kicking a rubber ball around the living room floor littered with wrapping paper. I was so overwhelmed I wasn't sure what to say. I wiped some tears from my face.

"...Thank you. It's beautiful."

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