by Melodie Davis

I was doing an errand when the beautiful strains of a symphony came over the airwaves from NPR. I don’t usually have my radio on NPR, choosing instead to listen to a local news station. All of a sudden I realized it had been over a year since I had heard the richness of a really good orchestra creating live stirring music all around me.

Now that our middle daughter has graduated from the school of music at the state university in our town, we are no longer attending the frequent recitals and orchestra programs we made time for (let’s face it) just because she was in them.

And that realization made me suddenly aware of all the many gifts our children gave us. I know Christmas is over, but perhaps January is a good time to revel in the continuing glow (we hope) of the holiday season: remembering times with family, children, feasting. What gifts did your children give you? I’m not talking about the store-bought kind.

Without my children, I would never have experienced what marching band was all about and all that went with that the running to cities hither and yon to attend competitions, see parades, or go to the football games where they were playing in the band, including a high school state championship game and a college national championship game as well as the Macy Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. I would never have run alongside to keep up with the band during a parade, and then wept silly sentimental tears for each one’s very last parade, or leaped (in a very undignified manner) high off my seat in the grandstand with other parents when finally, finally the band achieved their first “first.”

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I would never have experienced keeping eyes peeled to my children on stage in musicals, choir and band concerts, recitals, plays, elementary school pageants, graduations.

I would never have experienced sucking in my breath when a fast ball was hurdled at them in girl’s softball, or an elbow was thrown rebounding a basketball, or the shared embarrassment of one coming in last in the long jump or the 440.

Without my children, I would never have gotten to relive the drama, pain and proffered bouquets of roses thrust into awkward hands during teenage dating.

I would never have had the privilege of chaperoning sleepovers and birthday parties; and eavesdropping on tales of other kids’ first kisses and guys’ roaming hands if I hadn’t driven car pools and van loads of adolescents.

These are the gifts of children and that’s just the beginning. I know I wrote at one time about the many gifts children give when they are smaller. Tight hugs and wet kisses. Candy they held tightly in their hands for an hour, but now want you to eat. Already-been-chewed hamburger or French fries. Sweet bed and mealtime prayers. Innocent questions like “Why did God make the clouds so high?” After you’ve grasped for a decent answer, you gape in wonder at the answer they had already formulated, waiting to test it with you: “Maybe it’s so we don’t mess with them.”

Children bring the rediscovery of how fun it is to watch ants scurry on the sidewalk, butterflies emerge from a cocoon, or experience the peacefulness of observing crawdads in a rippling creek.

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Many times the gift children give us is just to make us laugh. A ten year old was helping his mother at our office one day when he saw one guy’s desk stacked high with many messy papers. “Looks like he’s got lots of work to do,” Owen observed. I got a good laugh out of that. It brightened my day.

Whether they are two, twelve, 22 or more, thank God for the gifts children have brought to your life whether they are yours or someone else’s!

Meditation: …children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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