The challenge of purchasing the annual Mother's Day gift lies with the buyer, not the seller, and not with the recipient. Reflecting back over the past, I cannot recall even one present my mom received on this special day that she did not like.

When I was 5 or 6, my dad helped me find and buy a gift for my mother. Curiously, that gift is embedded in my memory: a bright hot pink money wallet. It was a proud moment for me when she opened that gift!

Then there was the coupon book; what a clever (and cheap) idea! There were little slips of paper which mom could redeem for a free hug, dusting the furniture, taking out the trash, helping with supper -- you know, all the things I should be doing all the time anyway!

One year I loomed two pot holders for her. Other gifts across the years elude my memory, though I feel certain they were at least as extravagant as those already mentioned. I hesitate to admit it, but there may have even been a year or two during my affectionate parents-are-awesome teenage years that I went to no trouble at all, except for a card I quickly grabbed at the store.

As I reflect over all those years when mom was still here for me to honor and celebrate, I recognize an unexpected gift that was overlooked at the time. As only a mom could do, I suppose, my mother had me convinced that my present to her was absolutely the greatest she had ever received.

The revealing truth about that is the sincerity with which she gave thanks. It did not seem to be the obligatory or patronizing appreciation that such a gift probably deserved, but a deep expression of love for her child. In reality, she received the present, but I received the gift! Even on the one day we set aside to celebrate motherhood and try to give her a day off from being a mom, she cannot help but be a giver.

Moms seem to understand about gifts from the heart and the intent with which they are given. Sometimes, however, the giver is not so clear about what a mom appreciates. It reminds me of the two adult sons who were trying to out-give each other in order to buy mom's love and approval. The first son gave her a beautiful original painting worth $2,000 for her living room wall.

Not to be outdone, the other son purchased a rare exotic bird that could speak three languages and carry on an intelligent conversation with a human being. Sent all the way from Australia, it was worth the $5,000 to provide daily companionship for his mother.

He called her the next week to see how she liked her gift. With excitement in her voice she exclaimed, "That was the most delicious fowl I've ever eaten!"

From the depths of my heart, "Happy Mother's Day," moms. Thank you for being you!

Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.

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