As I sit and do a little mental stretching, I contemplate this Advent and season of gift giving. What makes a gift truly sincere, truly meaningful and truly in the spirit that is Christmas?
How easy is it to pick one of hundreds, thousands of random choices our commercials show us on a daily basis. How tempting is it to simply grab something in the check out aisle for that loved one. What should dictate our gift giving?….What makes a good gift?
Advent – the time of waiting, contemplating is also a time to consider the gift the whole of creation received 2000 years ago. A Savior. God knew full well, he is sending a baby, vulnerable, delicate and His own Son, to be dependent on humans, to be at the mercy of our goodness and weakness.
What a gift. And as much as we consider Christmas as Jesus being born – it also should bring to mind, the why He was given to us. He is our example, right, “WWJD?” He is our teacher, he is our brother, friend and Savior. But God’s plan isn’t to simply give us this baby, this boy, man – it was to ultimately pay for our discretion - the whole world’s sin.
And pay Christ did. Slander…………Mockery……….Torture……..Hours and hours of suffering. Pain. Death.
God, in this gift-giving, showed us what makes a gift a true, sincere treasure. It’s the offering of oneself.
It is sacrifice.
Now, the beginning of Advent this year, marked a series of events in our household that made gift considerations for Christmas a difficult task. In hoping to ease our month of December, I suggested an easy way out – gift cards. ”Honey, let’s just do gift cards to all extended family.”
In true HH style, as the hero he is, he asked me to stop and think about what kind of gift I was proposing and the ‘why’ of such a decision. Of course, it was to ease the stress and chaos of our home life. And that’s my job. Ultimately as the heart of my home, it’s to ease the stress, it’s to comfort, be available, and yes, gift cards all around would help us to create this peaceful home, this tranquil environment we so need in the month of December.
However, as it often is for me, and could be women in general, I am consumed with the details, the here and now – and not the long term. The long term is about teaching my kids and living the true spirit of Christmas that God expects me to do. And my kids need to see me giving the gift which involves sacrifice.
And sacrifice can mean many things.
It can be financial – so I don’t buy something frivolous for me, in order to buy that thing for you.
It can be laborious - I do this task to ease your life.
It can be time – I give my time to you, my energy, my creativity in this gift.
It can be giving up my own possessions.
It can be many things. So when I think of me giving gift cards to ease my life and home, yes, it does occur to me, that it doesn’t involve any kind of sacrifice. My gift would be hollow, empty and not only would the receiver feel it, but it’s not living the spirit of true gift giving.
So in that spirit, we came up with a new plan. And boy did it ever involve sacrifice… perhaps the biggest sacrifice for a Mom of five kids ages 4 – 12. TIME. My time is precious. Some days, every moment is accounted for, without a break, without an uninterrupted moment, without some need that I fill.
Now that these homemade gifts are nearly complete – I see how the many hours dedicated to these gifts, really constitutes a gift of incredible value. There is sacrifice involved. Late nights. Deciphering the smallest of details. Running here and there for supplies and stretching my creativity to the ultimate limit.
I hate to admit it. HH was right. Sacrificing my time, treasure and talent, in creating these gifts has me living a new kind of Advent this year. How once I got going on the project, I loved it, invested more time to perfect the details, and adding more elements to shape the gifts.
Best of all, my kids were involved. At one point, my 12 year old, Thinker, true to her nickname, tells me, “Wow, so much time and work into this….I want one!”
And that’s what it’s about. Time and Work. Yes, sacrifice. When a gift involves someone sacrificing, we ALL want it. And why? Because that person put a little of themselves into it.
My kids got to witness me working often on these gifts….and then I saw a beautiful gesture, a great sacrifice that my son, Knight, gave to Entertainer for her birthday, just a week ago. My Entertainer has fallen in love with Clone Wars, and for her birthday, Knight decided to pass along his Clone Wars figures to her as a birthday gift from him. When he brought this to me, wanting wrapping paper, I pressed him a couple of times, to ensure he wouldn’t regret this decision.
“Are you sure, Buddy? Really sure?” I asked.
“Yes” he stated firmly, “I want to give them to her, she will play with these, and love them!”
I doubled checked and triple checked if he really wanted to sacrifice these toys, and ultimately he did. He wrapped them, and presented them to Entertainer with such a genuine brotherly love.
I was moved.
Had I chosen the gift card gifts for Christmas, the easy route – then perhaps he would have too. He would have done what he has done for most birthdays. He makes a card. Which is fine, totally fine. But last week, he got to see the look on his sister’s face, her shock and excitement over this grand gesture from her brother. He got to feel down deep, what his sacrifice meant to another. He lived the experience, and I know this gift, this one gift will stay with these two kids, and bind them in a way a simple card could not.
Because sacrifice was involved. He gave up something special to him, a piece of himself to another, and she knew it….She knew he put a little of himself into this gift.
It was as if, a Christmas miracle had happened in our home, on December 13th, my little Entertainer’s birthday.
How grand can December 25th be, if all our gifts involved this kind of Christmas miracle? What could Christmas really be like for us, if every single gift we received and gave included a kind of sacrifice. Isn’t this what God challenges us to do each and every year? Does He hope to see in us a little glimmer of His likeness?
Thank you Lord. Thank you for a husband like mine, who can remind me, in gentle ways the power we have as parents of these children. They watch us, Lord, and emulate us. If we choose the better path, if we live sacrifice, then they know it’s not only ok, but noble. Help us to keep giving to one another in these ways, as we know, Lord, our reward may not be here, not on earth, but paving the way to eternity with you.
Copyright 2012 Sahmatwork