“Daddy, come outside and see my piñata,” my nine-year old exclaimed one Sunday afternoon. After a long, full morning at church on Easter, we then spent several hours with my mother who was recovering from knee surgery. Finally home, it was nice to just crash for a while.
Dawson led me outside to see his latest creation. My creative boy had drilled holes into four of his remaining Easter eggs and strung them together with yarn.
“Help me find a place to hang these in the woods and we can have a piñata!”
We searched together through the woods and decided upon the tree that is attached to our tree house. After securing the yarn, we instantly had a bright and colorful yard game. Dawson grabbed a long PVC pipe, and I snatched one of my long-sleeve shirts.
After wrapping his head in my shirt, Daws was ready to rumble. It did not take him long until he smacked the eggs and egg-stuff went everywhere.
“Woo-hooh, Daddy, that was cool!”
My son keeps teaching me valuable lessons. Joy can be found in the simple things in life.
The Bible exhorts us to choose to have joy: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5)
Dawson’s experiment with the eggs gave me four reminders of simple gifts:
1. Simple gifts can often be found in those things we already have – not just in the things we don’t.
Our children don’t always need yet another video game, action figure, or toy. Dads and moms, we don’t always need another purchase to make us temporarily feel good.
Instead, at times we can ask, “What can I do with what I already have?”
Pull out a board game for an hour of fun. Recycle those books that we read five years ago. This week my children had several hours of fun going through our cedar chest and looking at photos, baby clothes, and old letters.
2. Creativity goes a long way.
We don’t always have to purchase the biggest, newest, and best. The advance of technology has created a consumerism in our culture that trains us to think we have to have “the newest big thing.”
On Black Friday last year we purchased a flat-screen tv at a good price. For a couple of months we shopped for entertainment centers but did not want to pay full price. My wife began searching at consignment stores. She found an old wooden dresser, which we purchased for about $100.00. She spray-painted the entire dresser and it became a fabulous entertainment center.
I love to read. As an avid reader, I have discovered that a good used book that cost me $2.00 at Goodwill reads just as well as a brand new one that has a cover sticker of $23.99.
3. The pleasures of life are often best enjoyed when we share them with someone.
My wife enjoys coffee and I drink Pepsi. How nice it is to enjoy such treats sitting on our deck together, watching our children play in the back yard. We can take a walk with our children. Ride bikes together. Explore a creek.
4. Many of the joys of life do not require electricity.
Richard Swenson, author of the book In Search of Balance, challenges families to have “Little House on the Prairie” nights when, within reason, we do not use anything electronic for entertainment. Read together. Play games. Talk to each other. Sing and make music together. Enjoy the simple pleasures that people did for thousands of years before the advent of electricity.
We are wise to remember the words of the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”: ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free, ‘tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.