What are some gifts you’ve received this holiday season, and which is the most meaningful? Each of us has a different reason to savoring a specific item. “That favorite gift might be from someone special, something wanted for a very long time, or something that has earned a special meaning after realizing the huge effort made by the giver.”
The generosity in each person we met along our travels in Tanzania, humbled me. We were served food and drink, in homes which appeared to have little to give. Presenting us with gifts such as; chickens, woven grass bowls, carved wooden spoons, traditional wraps, songs and entertainment, brought feelings of unearned favor and appreciation.
Eighteen of us squeezed into a one room house with a dirt floor, the day before our big event. Shoulder to shoulder, we lined the four walls as we listened to this gentleman, rich with stories. A moment later, two small children lead one of their two goats in from the backyard. It took me a moment to realize what he was doing. Half of his family’s livestock was being given to us, in order to insure those traveling to join us, would not go hungry.
On the day of our wedding, my husband asked one of the clergymen from Tanzania, “How many people do you think are here?” To which the man replied, “I think, not less than three-thousand.” Not until that very moment, did I realize, the importance of all those goats and chicken that had been gifted. We were overjoyed to find out, a lorry full of rice and beans had been sent to this tiny village, and that everyone had received a meal that day.
A man crippled from polio, shuffled on his hands to the Alter, and present us with his gift. He told us, through an interpreter, “I cannot work the fields. I cannot tend the livestock. I weave to earn my living. I am so honored that you shared your special day with our village, that I made this grass mat for you.” It was very humbling, to except gifts from someone with a greater need than I had for their essential item.
The night was magical. We danced to the beat of the drums and jingling bells. Few words were able to penetrate through the language barriers. However, the smiles, laughter, and gleam in their eyes let me know, this was a special day for everyone!
The trinket I took from this experience, that I may find useful when writing children’s stories: “It’s not the size of the gift, but the quality of the giving.”