While most people fret over not knowing what to buy someone for Christmas, I have a different sort of problem. I love what I buy for others so much, I inevitably want to keep it.
I recognize that my propensity to want to hoard other people’s Christmas presents makes me like Dr. Seuss’s mean-spirited character, the Grinch. In fact, I’m afraid if I took one of those mail-in DNA tests, I might discover that my ancestry doesn’t descend from royalty like one hopes but from a tribe of hairy, pot-bellied, avocado-colored men whose hearts are two sizes too small.
Besides worrying about this fundamental flaw in my genetics, it’s a terrible nuisance to realize you still have more Christmas shopping to do because you kept many of the things you bought for others. My husband, who is a gifted enabler, lovingly wraps the gifts I hoard and puts them under the tree for me. I think it’s a relief for him because he doesn’t have to work as hard at trying to figure out what to give me for Christmas. So, maybe on some level what I’m doing is altruistic.
I know this behavior hardly conjures scenes from the nativity. I suppose I wouldn’t have made a very good wise woman anyhow. I would meet sweet baby Jesus with the gold I bought for him forged into a stylish bracelet around my wrist while explaining to him that his gift would arrive on the next camel.
The truth is it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. We are conditioned to think that the best gifts we give are ones we purchase. Yet, in the words of my great Uncle Grinch twice removed, “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more?” Even the Grinch evolved enough to know that Christmas isn’t about the gifts we buy. Christmas is about the year-round gift we can be in each other’s lives by emulating the life of our Savior born during this holy season.
Every day, we have gifts to share with others. These are God-given gifts unique to each of us. Gifts that the world needs. Nothing I could ever buy for anyone could come close to symbolizing my love for them. Yet, by sharing laughter, patience, and compassion, they get a truer idea of what they mean to me. In the kaleidoscope of shiny red paper, gold ribbons, velvet boxes, and decadent desires, I sometimes forget that it’s not just giving that’s better than receiving. It’s giving of ourselves that is the very best of all. (And, I am not just saying that to justify keeping all the other presents). Instead, it’s because I know that no matter what I open on Christmas morning, or my birthday, or any other time of the year, it never compares to the person who gave it to me. They are the real gift. Nothing that comes from a store could ever outshine the way people in life show up for us. It could never be more precious than the love we receive from our neighbors. Remembering that is really the gift we should all keep for ourselves.
Hi all~ I wish that I had more time to write during this advent season but it has been a difficult month in a difficult year. I have been busy completing the second round of edits on my book which is exciting until your eyeballs are about to pop out from exhaustion. I also had another biopsy of my thyroid which is protruding out of my throat like a bird whose prey is stuck in its caw. The results were indeterminate so I had to wait what felt like an eternity for the good news revealed by molecular testing (low-cancer risk).
So, alas, three days before Christmas, I am ready to wallow in every bit of joy the season brings. I hope whatever you have going on in your life that you will also immerse yourself in all that is merry and bright. Perhaps because it has been such a dark year, the light of hope illuminated by the birth of our Savior seems brighter than ever. May it shine on you and all those you love this Christmas and thank you for being another gift in my life. ~love, Lara
Read more: Small Mercies and No Cones