T minus 5 days until Christmas and I’m racking my brain trying to find the perfect gift for someone I care about a great deal. Loathing the commercialism and consumerism wrapped around Christmas, I know better than to be overly consumed with such material concerns when the season is supposed to be about the spiritual. So, how did I get tricked into behaving this way?
When I think of a Christmas that really means something, I think about the important message of peace, love, hope and good will… a message quietly symbolized by the Christ child resting in a humble manger in a simple little stable in a town known as Bethlehem, peacefully sleeping with his loving parents by his side. Everything about this scene is everything I want my Christmas to be, and when I spend the season with the ones I love, I want so much to express that same feeling with a gift that reminds them how much of a treasure they are to me every day of my life. The problem is there isn’t any material item that could possibly express that level of love when it comes to those that are closest to me, so I try instead to start out early enough in the year to create a unique, personalized gift for my loved ones. This plan swiftly goes awry as ideas and time run out and Christmas appears quite suddenly on my doorstep–the guest that’s arrived way too early for the party.
It turns out that I rarely have the mental fortitude to come up with such well-crafted sentimental gifts in a timely manner for even one person, much less everyone I hold dear. Spinning my wheels trying to make a dozen or so such presents materialize, I somehow end up with nothing in hand, nothing to give.
Here it is, 5 days before Christmas, and I’ve only managed to package some quick gifts to send to those furthest away, gifts that don’t even begin to express my love or hold any of the sentimental expression that I wished to convey. And this year, with finances in rather poor shape, I couldn’t even do what in more prosperous years made me at least feel a ‘little’ better–to at least give gifts that the recipients would like. With days to spare, I stand here with fairly empty pockets–empty pockets that reflect the inept feeling I feel for not coming up with the perfect gift for those who perfectly fill my life with love and joy.
I don’t know how it keeps coming around to me feeling such pressure to present these inadequate material gifts as expressions of love, but it often does. I sit here with a frustrated heart, wanting desperately to give something wonderful to the wonderful one I will spend Christmas day with this year, and tomorrow will be T minus 4, and the day after T minus 3. What could possibly suffice? Could jewelry, electronics, or concert tickets for the one you love? Could gold, incense, or myrrh to the Christ child? It all seems inadequate to express love this way. The truth is I don’t want nor do I expect anything at all from my loved ones for Christmas, and if I asked each one, they’d say the same to me. All I’d really want is to be with them and to always know that I could do so whenever I wanted. The fact is that soon enough this Christmas will be Christmas past, and I–empty pockets or not, having had gift in hand or not–will, by the grace of God, be in the present with all my loved ones by my side, either in person or spiritually.
That is the gift of Christmas and the wonderful thing about LOVE… it costs nothing but says everything, has no boundaries and is accessible to us all at any time by just believing that is so. It is the simple, humble, full-of-peace gift that we can always give and that we always wish to receive. May you give and get it in abundance this Christmas and always.
Merry Christmas one and all!