I can’t let this Christmas slip by without sharing the story of one of the most unexpected gifts I think I have ever received and the heart toucher behind it. To say that I felt unworthy of this gift is an understatement, as I had only met the gift giver a single time. Though we had kept in touch via email as he was most dedicated and determined to keep me in the loop and encourage me at a time when I was serving as a leader in children’s ministry at our church.
After confiding to him that our church had experienced difficult times and that our family had made the painful decision to start over and move on elsewhere to a new congregation, much to my astonishment, a gift showed up on my doorstep that simply blew me away. It was most remarkable. I can’t even describe it to you…The timing of the gifts arrival was uncanny!
It was the most tangible form of encouragement I think I have ever received in my life at a time when I really needed it.
My gift arrived in early August of 2010 in a humble shoe box with a very professional cover letter which introduced its contents to me. Jack explained that he recognized it had a “certain primitive appearance” and that though I may or may not use it, it was a labor of love with memories and pride. He hoped I would enjoy it as much as he had in making it for me. He signed the letter with appreciation, friendship and respect, Jack Gilmour.
Then he gave me Unpacking Instructions which gave very specific, detailed suggestions on how to unwrap my gift which involved copious amounts of clear 3M packing tape and lots of rubber bands. As I opened each piece and realized exactly WHAT this gift was, tears welled up and poured down my cheeks as I was overcome with gratitude and a feeling of total and absolute unworthiness.
Jack had kept a meticulous accounting of his “Nativity Set Production History” and shared an in depth two page description of how my new handmade creation came to be. Though it appears he worked with stained glass in the past, and credits Willet Studios in Pennsylvania for supplying the lead came for a previous project, these figures were made with “cooking crystals” which he and his wife became aware of in the early 70s.
Each figure has a lead (came) frame which is shaped and soldered together and took roughly 4 to 5 hours to complete. The crystals were cooked in a kitchen oven at 375 to 380 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Once cooked, additional repairs of sagged joints and removal of overflowed crystal reside was necessary.
To Jack, the nativity project represented a lifetime of memories of sixty years of living and rejoicing with his beloved wife Peggy. All told, he estimated 85 sets were produced. That is a lot of hearts to have touched!
I can’t remember what I babbled on about in my thank you note, but I know it was most heartfelt. Once he received it, he called and left a message on my voice mail and with emotion and deep appreciation in his voice, said it was one of the best written thank you notes he had ever received.
It was a true blessing to be on the receiving end of a gift that has left such a lasting impression. The Lord works in mysterious ways. It is most definitely my most beloved Christmassy treasure. I am inclined to leave it up all year round! It inspires me to attempt my own version of a fused glass nativity set “some day” and in Jack’s memory and in the spirit of giving, share it with some unsuspecting person.
Mr. Jack Gilmour was called to the Lord and his beloved wife Peggy this past May at the ripe old age of 89 and his obituary can be found here . Incidentally, all those who took time to comment on his page, specifically mentioned his “cooking crystals”.
Luke 2:10 – But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy, Joy-filled 2012 from me to you!