It was while I was attending college that I first saw aqua blue velvet. I can still see it now, the sumptuous, soft, rich color; artistically draped in the form of a lovely coat, worn by one of the most beautiful girls on campus. She was not only owner of this exquisite coat, but was also one of the sweetest and most intelligent girls I had ever known. Whenever and wherever one met Margie, she had a bubbly "Hi! and how are you?" demeanor, followed by an appropriate inquiry that was meant to bring out the best in each one she greeted. She was a darling girl both inside and out. The aqua blue velvet coat looked just right on her. You see, she was our very own campus princess.
The following June in my little home church, witnessed by several hundred friends and family, I found myself walking down the aisle in a beautiful white, long, lace and organza dress, complete with a whispery veil, feeling very much like a princess myself. Standing at the end of the aisle was my prince, so tall and handsome, my ministerial student prince, the realization of my happiest hopes and dreams. For you see, I had always wanted to be a minister's wife, to be a worker in my beloved church. My dreams were coming true.
After a honeymoon in Wisconsin, we settled in a small upstairs apartment just off campus. Malcolm was soon busy as a student publishing assistant. By the time school started that fall, we were able to save a good portion of the money toward the expenses for the upcoming year. Everything was going according to plan; we were convinced that two really could live as cheaply as one, and that it wouldn't be that difficult for me to continue my education and be a good wife, too. A few months later, evidenced by an expanding waistline, we would endeavor to alter the age-old axiom to see if three could live as cheaply as one. Malcolm, fine upstanding young man that he was, took on a part-time job in a printing shop located in a neighboring city, at the same time carrying a full 18 hours plus of college work. However, in spite of our best efforts of strictest economy, there really wasn't money in the budget for a "lady in waiting" wardrobe. Somehow we did manage to find a Sabbath outfit, but it was the aqua blue velvet material that I had my heart set on. I could make it myself, employing my newly acquired sewing skills learned the previous year in home economic class.
A short while later on an infrequent shopping trip with a friend, I found just what I was looking for—beautiful, luxurious, aqua blue velvet. I wistfully described my find to my husband followed by, "I know we really can't afford it, Honey, so don't worry. It's all right; it really is."
Time quickly passed and the holidays arrived. It was already a tradition to spend Christmas Eve at the Gordons and Christmas Day at the Johnsons, highlighted by a scrumptious meal together. Mother Jerine and Father Doug Gordon went all out for Christmas. Throughout the entire year, they put away money in a Christmas Club and purchased gifts they found on special sales. Theirs were never extravagant presents but much needed and practical items for each family member that were always much appreciated.
I will never forget that special Christmas. As each package was handed out, we would try and wait so as to focus our full attention on the recipient to share in the excitement and joy of their particular gift. Soon it was my turn to open a most beautifully wrapped box. What could this possibly be? I didn't dare hope for the costly aqua blue velvet, but there it was. I couldn' t believe my eyes. I remembered turning to my young husband, and looking into his love-filled eyes and saying with tears, "Oh, Honey! You shouldn't have. I know we can't really afford it," only to hear him say, "I knew you really wanted it; it's because I love you and want to make you happy."
Through the years I have been showered with gifts from this precious man, not all of which could be wrapped and ribboned. Many of these tokens of love carried a larger price tag, but none of them more meaningful or precious than the aqua blue velve t of so many years ago. It was truly a gift of great love, sacrifice, and selfless devotion.
With the holiday upon us, let's think about this special time of year—not just in terms of the hustle and bustle of expected hospitality and gifts—but as a time of special opportunity to case the burden of a deserving family, or of giving to a special church project, to share books and homemade treats with family, neighbors, and friends. Perhaps in the midst of your giving, you could be the one to provide someone with their very own "aqua blue velvet" experience. As we busily search and select gifts for family and friends, let us not forget our Heavenly Father. le, too, would love to have an "aqua blue velvet" gift from "His beloved."
Dorothy F. Albaugh pens it so beautifully in her poem.
The Costliest Gift
by Dorothy F. Albaugh
With every gift I lay away
In readiness for Christmas Day.
Lord, may I also lay aside
Somethinh else this Christmastide.
Help me to lay aside regret;
To have the courage to forget
And start again with this new year.
Help me to lay aside my fear,
My grief and doubting. Men may feel
I have no present when I kneel
To you; but only you and I
Know what it cost me to lay by
These giffs I give you. Please, Lord, fill
My empty cup with what you will.