The True Gift of Christmas
December 15, 2008
Each Christmas, we are pummeled by an overwhelming supply of advertisements promoting every gizmo, gadget, clothing item, automobile, mobile phone, and high definition audio visual overload contraption imaginable. These messages assail our every sensory receptor and quite convincingly persuade us into believing that it is a miracle that we as human beings have survived until now without Product X.
I mean seriously, how did we survive without a GPS to find our way from point A to point B (where I’m from, you asked directions or you looked at a map … but I digress)? Sure, it’s cool technology but is that what Christmas is all about … buying cool toys for your loved ones? Yes, a new ultra-huge high definition 1080p TV with jimungo built-in speakers that will blast the paint off the walls would be great, but what kind of gift is this, really? I think something is missing from our concept of gift-giving as it is so much more than the purchase of cool toys and the acquisition of more stuff that we really don’t need.
We recently heard the news reports about Black Friday and the economic implications of this important shopping day. As I listened, it became clear to me that Christmas has become an economic event focused on the number of items sold, numbers of dollars taken in, and number of shoppers (or store employees) trampled underfoot. Christmas is no longer about true gift-giving as much as it is now a measure of the economic health of America. Well, we may have had a better Black Friday this year than in years past, but it seems to me that as a country we are ethically, morally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt. We’ve missed the point of why we celebrate Christmas.
Christmas, as I have always known it, is the celebration of the birth of a child ” the greatest gift ever given to mankind. And this child would later give his life for all of mankind in one of the most unselfish acts ever recorded. I want to suggest that a true “gift” is something we give to another person and expect nothing in return. Gift-giving is not about reciprocation ” I don’t give you a gift and expect that I will receive one in return. Christmas is caring for just a moment about someone else and not being so involved with ourselves.
I was watching “Extreme Home Makeover” the other night and marveled at the story of a woman who suffers from a rare heart disorder that could take her life at any moment. She is a music teacher in a rather poor school. Because the school can’t afford musical instruments, she built simple instruments for her students using her own money. Her focus in life is giving of herself so that her students can receive the gift of music. Her quote during the show was, “Each day, I leave a piece of myself with each and every one of my students.” Her concern is not for herself or her life threatening physical condition. Her concern is for other people and making sure she gives of herself to them … expecting nothing in return. That, my friend, is a true gift.
True gifts are simple; they are lasting, and priceless. They are little things like writing a note to someone to thank them for the many ways they have touched your life. It may be shoveling the snow off of someone’s driveway before they get up in the morning, or opening a door for a stranger, or letting someone in line ahead of you. It may be mowing someone’s lawn when they don’t expect it, or just smiling at someone when you can see that they are having a rough day. These don’t seem like gifts at all, huh? And they probably don’t seem like gifts because of the way we’ve been conditioned to think of gift giving. It doesn’t seem like a gift if it doesn’t cost money and the more money spent, the better the gift (sound familiar?). If you are a parent, I will bet you’ve received a handmade gift from one of your children and it quickly became a treasured item. Why? Because it was something made out of love for you by the tiny hands and enormous heart of a child. I still have the pinch pots, pictures, coffee mugs, and other items my kids made for me. They are treasures because they came from their hearts and not their pocket books. Christmas is giving a gift of love to another person and love doesn’t have a price tag.
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Christmas is not about Santa Claus and Rudolph, it’s not about the price tag on a gift, or the Parade of Lights, Christmas is about the giving of gifts that are lasting and eternal, not temporary and material. And there is one more thing I would like you to consider ” Christmas is every day, not just once a year. We can celebrate Christmas every day through our actions and attitudes. We can remember that true gifts never go out of style, don’t rust, mold, mildew or lose their value when the stock market takes a dive. True gifts come from the heart and I think we need to see more advertisements for these types of gifts.
Be well, be safe, and give a true gift this Christmas.
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