During this season of Christmas 🎄, we’re often consumed by trying to acquire all kinds of gifts 🎁 for the different friends, family & other interested parties on our sometimes very long lists. It can be quite the quandary to come up with appropriate presents for the 23-year-old guy who only loves video games and won’t say which one he wants; or the spouse that works so much he doesn’t have time for any of his various hobbies & yet wants to do more on this one, that one, & the other one. Once we have them all bought and (hopefully) paid for, then it’s time to wrap them up. For me, that involves spreading everything out on the old air hockey table we have in the basement with all the supplies arrayed around behind me, a good Christmas movie on the big TV down there, and a large glass of iced tea. Then it’s time to haul all those wrapped goodies back up the stairs and place them oh so carefully under the tree (which does nothing to deter the cats from exploring every bow and ribbon, sometimes with disastrous results 😕). After many years of struggling with that I finally decided to place them in order of opening – so they wouldn’t have to pawed on over & over. When Christmas Day arrives, what’s so very special is the fun of watching others open & hopefully seeing the joy & the pleasure on all their sweet faces when they do get the right something.
As I bet you can guess, according to https://capitalcounselor.com/christmas-spending-statistics/ Christmas presents (as in the things) are a huge economic investment for most folks. For 2021 Americans will average $886 on Christmas spending, the highest number in 20 years. (I blame COVID & Amazon!) Kids will get about $276 per child on their Santa Stuff. The whole collection of the Twelve Days of Christmas, AKA The Christmas Price Index or CPI, amounts to $41,205.58 this year, a 5.7% increase from 2019. 😳 And in case you were curious, the most unwanted gifts are clothes (40%) and household items (27%), which means you shoulda given your list to the Mr. & Mrs. before they had to decide for themselves what to give you! 😜
That’s a lot of trouble for things. Too much trouble? I wonder… Ralph Waldo Emerson says that “Rings & jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.” From the blog https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/, philanthropy is defined as the art of gifting & giving back. Here’s their list of ways to do just that: 1. Donate your time. 2. A random act of kindness (RAK). 3. Fundraise. 4. Help a child in need. 5. Help a senior. 6. Recycle. 7. Plant a tree. I know that Giving Tuesday has gotten a big push of late which is awesome. There are all types of charities and other places that we can put our moolah and our muscles, so we spread the joy of the season.
I’ve been contemplating about the different gifts we have and give that can’t be wrapped or placed in a gift bag (one of my go-to’s). For instance, I love the gift of laughter. God has given me a big booming laugh and I love getting to use it. While some might not like the noise of it, (I did say loud right?), I think there must be a bit of Santa in me so that I have his kind of laughter – which certainly eases some of the knots in my soul at times. Even when the laughter is directed toward myself because I’ve done something kind of silly like trying to pour the wine with the top still on 😄. Kindness is another quality that I promote and practice. It costs nothing to patiently answer a child’s curious questions or to be compassionate in the drive-through line. And then there is that oh so precious gift of love – whether it be for friend or family or that sweetheart that loveth thee❤! This quote from Pope Francis really strikes a chord in my heart: “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If He gives us the fit of Christmas it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”
Which leads us to the greatest Gift of all – that of the Babe born in Bethlehem (Israel, not GA). Who came not for Himself, but for us. Isaiah 9:6 NKJV shares the good news:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
That’s one of my favorite pieces of scripture – especially as it’s presented (get it – present?) in Handel’s Messiah. (As that ear worm 🎶🎵 plays so lovingly in my head.) God’s gift of Jesus to us allows us to share the other gifts that we have with those we encounter in our day-to-day world. I believe, as John R Rice states: “You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift.” May all the gifts 🎁you give and receive be blessed.