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Beyond Gifts: Finding Love in Actions and Memories

“Our culture says that feelings of love are the basis for actions of love. And of course that can be true. But it is truer to say that actions of love can lead consistently to feelings of love.” - Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Christmas presents keep coming up in my conversations with my family these days. I get it, since my family usually likes to exchange gifts and like everything else related to the holidays, Teri was really thoughtful and intentional with the gifts she would get others. She made my life so easy because figuring out gifts for so many people usually stresses me out. She also made all our Christmas cards. She took a lot of actions of love for me and for others.

Talking about presents got me thinking about presents that Teri and I have given each other over the years. There actually wasn't that many. We rarely gave each other anything for any special occasions, mainly because we didn't really need anything. She may have written me a card or two, I will have to look. There were a few times we made an exception, well at least I did. In 2018, Teri's family really got into the board game "King of Tokyo." We bought the expansion packs, which resulted in all the pieces not fitting in the original box. It bothered me. I told Teri we should buy this game organizer thing on Amazon so it would all fit in the same box. She said no. Of course I wouldn't let it go so I ended up just buying it for her for Christmas. Here's a video I made awhile ago on the whole experience, including assembling the thing:

This made me feel a little sad watching this because I always gave Teri (and my friends) a hard time when it came to playing board games. We have a lot of board games in the living room credenza we never even got to play together. I've even given some of them away. I just don't find playing them to be fun, perhaps because I'm great at losing at them, especially to Teri. I think it's because I have a hard time sitting still and it also takes patience to get good at them.

In other words, I need to make a point in 2024 to have more fun. Easier said than done. I just got back from a holiday concert (I usually don't like going to concerts) so there's been some progress.

This video also reminds me of one of one of the weekends in mid March before she passed away. Pandemic was the last board came we played together. We made a great team playing pandemic, and probably annoyed others when we played with them since we would end up telling them what to do.

After we played, we made it to the Saturday mariners service, which was the last time she attended church service in person:

Christ alone, cornerstone Weak made strong in the Savior's love Through the storm He is Lord, Lord of all - Cornerstone, Hillsong Worship

Another topic that came up recently was about the benefits of having lazy saturdays. While I do like having my freedom to do whatever I want with my weekends now, I really miss having these lazy Saturdays with Teri. We would go on a two mile walk around the lake. While she always prefered to watch TV to relax, she found a lot of joy in coloring using this coloring app on her phone, and with paper/colored pencils:

While most of the time I prefer gifts that are practical, I am also a big fan of sentimental gifts. This idea for a gift showed up on Facebook Marketplace and since it was inexpensive, I went and bought it:

Speaking of sentimental gifts, this season of grief helped me realize how much of a sentimental person I am. I like to save everything people give me. It's probably why I enjoy writing in the blog so much, it gives me intentional time to remember my relationship with Teri. The more I put here, the less anxiety I have about forgetting about these details in my relationship that brought a lot of joy.

Being overly sentimental also scares me a bit. I know I'll eventually run out of fun videos to post about Teri. Then what's next? I'm not sure.

Anyways, I think that's all the documentation I have regarding Terwin and gifts. I'll keep an eye out for more.

What do I want for Christmas? Definitely no more stuff.

This topic has come up a few times as well. After spending most of this year downsizing and giving away most of Teri's possessions, I definitely prefer not to to get any more stuff. I've enjoyed finding lots of ways to simplify my life and still continue to do so. When I'm on the fence about giving away something, I remind myself that there's lots of people out there that will make much better use of these possessions.

I definitely love receiving Christmas cards and putting them up on my wall. It really encourages me that families can take the time out of their busy holiday schedule to take these photos, order the cards, and mail them all out. It is not too late if you're still thinking about it! Most of the cards I get are from people I haven't seen in years, some even decades. I was close to these people during one season of my life and I'm thankful that they still take the time to send me a card. I especially love reading the cards with a lot of updates about what's happened with people throughout the year.

If you don't want more stuff, what else would make you happy?

Too be honest, I'm not sure. I am trying to eat healthier and get back in shape if that helps. These days what makes me happy is quality time with people, as everyone is so busy. If anyone wants to meet up to exercise, please let me know.

For those that consider donating to a charity during this time of the year, I'm certain that Teri would love me to give a shoutout to her favorite non-profit, The Bible Project. I spent some time today reading the big Bible project books on the coffee table. Here's Teri showing off one of them:

This definitely makes a great Christmas present if you know anyone who loves reading the Bible as much as Teri did.

How are you feeling these days?

While the holidays have still been emotionally challenging, I do feel better than I deserve. It's a privilege I even have time to write here once a week and have lazy Saturdays like I did today. I was informed recently that a colleague lost his mother about a year ago, and is still grieving. He may request a leave of absence because the holidays have been especially difficult. I totally get it. At this moment I don't think I'm struggling as much, but the thought of taking time off did cross my mind. Lately I've felt more exhausted than usual. I'm starting to sleep in more. I'm also pretty tired of all the busyness and also saying no to a lot of things that aren't a priority.

Speaking of bedtime, its getting late and I need to wake up very early tomorrow. Have a great evening and rest of the weekend everyone!


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Really enjoyed this post! Great reflections and insights!! Glad you were able to capture so many moments with videos and photos!!

I’m only four posts behind now!!


HAHAHAAHAAA, Teri was such a good sport about that Christmas present!! But that "Thank you for being so proud of yourself" made me snort aloud, HAHAHAAAA!!! TBF, that box looked like it would be super fun to put together; I'd have bought it just for the fun of that! Such sweet memories!!


Jenny Scott
Jenny Scott
Dec 11, 2023

Thanks for sharing, Erwin. I love this encouragement for me to find love in action and memories. I need to do that more. I love these videos of Teri. I appreciate you are a sentimental person. That is a gift from God and blesses so many of us. I love to think about the fact that Teri is hanging out with all the people of the Bible that she learned about and got so excited about through her Bible Project. I hope you continue to enjoy your new memories this Christmas and was so honored that we had you in our Concert memory. Hope you have a great week, brother.


Emilyn Edillon
Emilyn Edillon
Dec 11, 2023

It seems like Teri really appreciated the wooden house decoration a lot. I liked watching her reaction when you told her it was from Facebook marketplace. lol


Grace H Lee
Grace H Lee
Dec 11, 2023

I love seeing these bits that show the normalcy and the every day-ness of your life. Although I bet there was heaviness behind these times. These are precious moments.

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