Being that today is Sunday, and as a Christian, my 2nd to last gift idea will be religiously themed:
Christmas, after all, is a celebration of Christ’s birth; that “the Word was made flesh,” as John wrote. It is a celebration of the great step in God’s plan for the salvation and redemption of man.
I blogged earlier this year that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of its gift-less gratitude, and in recent years I have been the “scrooge” of the family, poo-pooing the materialism and gimme attitude that seemed to accompany each holiday season. Perhaps it was because of the poverty I experience in Brazil, or maybe it was just because I couldn’t ever seem to come up with an idea for any present anyone could give me that I would actually enjoy receiving.
Today, I have changed my mind. Christmas, I have decided, would be incomplete without the gift giving. I believe that gift giving in the correct way is critical to achieving the “true spirit of Christmas.”
Why do I say this when gifts seem to be the most prevalant evidence of the “commercialism” of this season? (Which I still think is a problem.)
I have come to a realization that true gift giving is not simply a celebration of the bounty of the year. It’s not fulfilling each other’s needs and wants. It’s not being surprised or thrilled on Christmas morning. It’s not giving to charities or causes to feel better about ourselves, or get a break on the imminent tax return. It’s not about waking up early and seeing what the ‘haul’ is this year.
Gifts, at the most basic level, are tangible expressions we make one toward another. Some gifts express romance (think of the jewelry commercials), others express friendliness. Some we give in hopes to receive reciprocal gifts, and yet others we give to show our creativity or to see the look of surprise on the recipient’s face.
The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas didn’t start with the 3 wise guys who travelled from a long way hauling precious metals and spices, as many would ascribe it to. The tradition of giving begins in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
God was the first to give a gift at Christmas time. The gift he gave was his Son. The motive behind the gift was love.
Christ then grew and fulfilled his mission. He gave the greatest gift of all, his expiating sacrifice, which inexplicably and miraculously pays for our human flaws, drawing us back to God and his perfection.
These two gifts, gifts of true love, are gifts of self.
So this year at Christmas, consider giving an extra gift; give back to God the one thing we have to give, the only thing doesn’t come from Him in the first place and is truly ours to give; your will. Give something of yourself, your time, your life over to him. He promises that ‘he who loses his life for [His] sake will find everlasting life.’
…and it’s true.