Christmas, with its commercialization, often times can disguise the true meaning of what the greatest gift of this time of year truly is: the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Having said that, I will be the first to admit I found myself getting caught up in the excitement and sometimes stress of making sure everyone received the perfect gifts from me, that they are purchased wrapped and sent timely, and the decorations look great, the cooking is planned and baking the cookies and fudge are done for another Christmas season. Just putting it on paper in this way makes me realize how hectic it gets at this time of year.
Last night, as I began packing up the Christmas wrapping paper for another year along with the bows and ribbon I thought about a question someone at work posed to me. “What was your favorite gift this year, Cathy?”
Keep in mind, the first material gifts were given to the baby Jesus when the three wise men followed the star presenting Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. So I contemplated the answer to the question as to what was my favorite gift of this Christmas. I thought about my new Ugg slippers, my ear rings and even the North Face gloves I purchased for myself in advance of Christmas. Somehow these didn’t seem like the correct answer. I have to say being with my family and especially watching my Granddaughter, Lilah, open her gifts, playing with her favorite – a microphone that allowed her to sing along with Disney songs while wearing her new Princess Moana dress, these were some of my best moments of Christmas. Then of course, there was Going to Mass with my daughter and her family and listening to my Granddaughter sing “Glooooooooria in Ex Celsis Deo” with so much fervor in her heart even though she had no idea what it was she was singing, it was so incredibly special. I had to imagine the smile on God’s face hearing her enthusiasm while singing. My husband enjoying his new slippers and razor was fun too. If Christmas is meant to remind us of the Magi’s gifts to Jesus on the occasion of his birth, then perhaps something else in the way of gifts should be thought of as our favorite.
God gave us his Son Jesus as a supreme act of forgiveness. What if we in turn offered others gifts that can’t be wrapped or tied in a ribbon? I’m referring to presents such as the gift of loving one another with all of our heart. Or the gift of charity to someone in need, or the gift of kindness to a stranger, or the gift of generosity or maybe even thanking someone for a gift they gave to you. Probably the best gift I can think of that we could do is offer someone the gift of forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has harmed us or asking for forgiveness of someone we know we have hurt in some way; what a joy that would be in the way of a gift. Ghandi said,
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Another favorite quote of mine:
“A little girl described forgiveness as follows:
It’s the fragrance flowers give when they have been crushed.”
A quote from Charles Dickens Christmas story from his character, Tiny Tim:
“God bless us every one!”
Let us all be reminded of the important gifts that can’t be boxed or wrapped or tied in ribbons. I think this could truly be our greatest gift to Jesus in exchange for all He did for us.
Copyright 2017 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh