Poignant words from Erma that will hit close to home for many of us. May the chimes ring for you this Christmas.
The Chimes Rang
There is a wonderful story of Christmas, about a great cathedral whose chimes would not ring until, as the legend goes, the real gift of love had been placed on its altar.
Year after year, great kings would offer up the riches of their land, but the chimes would not ring.
One year, a small waif in a shabby coat entered the great cathedral and proceeded down the long aisle. He was stopped and asked what he could possibly give that kings had not already offered. The small boy looked down and hopelessly examined his possessions. Finally, he took off his coat and laid it gently at the foot of the altar.
The chimes rang.
To receive a gift, molded from love and sacrifice, selected with care and tied up with all the excitement the giver has to offer, is indeed rare. They don't come along often, but when they do, cherish them.
I remember the year I received my first "Crumb Scraper." It was fashioned from half a paper plate and a lace doily. I have never seen such shining pride from the little four-year-old girl who asked, "You don't have one already, do you?"
The crumb scraper defied description. When you used one part of the cardboard to guide the crumbs into the plate, they bounced and scattered through the air like dancing snowflakes. But it didn't matter.
I remember a bookmark created from a piece of cardboard with a picture of Jesus crayoned on the front. It was one of those one-of-a-kind collector's items that depicted Jesus as a blond with a crew cut. Crayoned underneath the picture were words to live by, OH COME HOLY SPURT.
My favorite, though, was a small picture framed with construction paper, and reinforced with colored toothpicks. Staring out at me was a picture of Robbie Wagner. "Do you like it?" asked the small giver excitedly. "I used a hundred gallons of paste on it. Don't put it near heat or the toothpicks will fall off."
I could only admit it was beautiful, but why Robbie instead of his own picture? "The scissors slipped and I goofed my picture up," he explained. "Robbie had an extra one."
There were other gifts - the year of the bent coat hanger adorned with twisted nose tissues and the year of the matchbox covered with sewing scraps and fake pearls - and then the small homemade gifts were no more.
I still receive gifts at Christmas. They are thoughtful. They are wrapped with care. They are what I need.
But oh, how I wish I could bend low and receive a gift of cardboard and library paste so that I could hear the chimes ring at Christmas just once more.
- Erma Bombeck, At Wit's End, Nelson Doubleday, Inc., 1965