The annual silent-killer is upon us once again. The oft paralyzing pressure of holiday gift giving. By definition, the word "gift" means something that is given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without it being earned. In essence, the thought reads quite pleasant. Especially the part that says this: something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient... Everyone enjoys receiving something for nothing, whether we admit it or not. However, when a gift no longer remains a gift, but is influenced by an inherent need to deserve the gift, then it becomes a trade, and the silent-killer kicks into full gear. 'Now, I owe something in return.'It is no longer just a gift, but a responsibility to make sure the gift-giver knows that the gift given was appreciated, whether it was truly enjoyed or not. This sort of social pressure, intended to bless, more often introduces a burden, to the giver and receiver alike. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I sheepishly admit, I have received Christmas gifts in the past that I have had absolutely no use for. Not the right size. Not the right color. Not the right style. Not the right whatever. And, with no receipt. I’m sure you can relate. Nonetheless, I like to be frugal, practical and resourceful. I have a special drawer that houses a variety of items that once sat under someone else’s Christmas tree waiting for the trade. This storage place is known as my “re-gifting” collection. A host of unneeded things waiting for just the right recipient on just the right occasion. Like I stated, I like to be frugal, practical and resourceful (other words for re-gifting), especially at Christmastime when the silent-killer of gift-giving pressure comes crushing down upon me and my bank account. I imagine I, too, have given, more than once, a sweetly wrapped gift that made its way to that “special” drawer or cupboard or box; or worse, the garage for the next yard sale. Or maybe my re-gifting collection are really just re-gifted gifts. Hmmm... (To any one reading this utterly transparent admission of guilt of re-gifting or giving of useless gifts, I seek your forgiveness now.)The quote “It’s the thought that counts” seems all too frequently, an excuse at one time or another to justify meaningless trinkets dressed in shiny green and red wrap. My heart discloses that I have hidden behind those words. I want to defend myself by appointing our consumer driven culture to blame, but I cannot. The truth is it's the gift that counts. I am learning that the most excellent gift of deepest value worth receiving and giving AND re-gifting is more of an obedient action than a tangible thing. At least and at best, this is what Jesus believed. And commanded. In Matthew chapter 22, verse 36, the Pharisees questioned Jesus: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” The Teacher responded in verses 37-39: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Love.
Love is not a thought. Love is an action.
Let us vow to make gift giving different this year. First, may we not buy gifts without special meaning; nor buy the lie that we must buy a gift. Second, let us not give what we do not have. May we not be tempted to rack up debt, except the continuing debt to love others. Third, may our gifts not merely say that we love each other, but let us show our love in action and in truth. Here are just a few gift giving ideas and suggestions of how to package your gifts: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is content. Love is humble. Love is unassuming. Love honors others. Love is selfless. Love controls self. Love forgives and forgets. Love delights in goodness. Love always rejoices in the truth. Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails.* Love. The only gift that never fails. Always the perfect size; never too big or ever too slight. Always the right color; never dreary, forever shining bright. Always the right style; never changing, always perfect and right. Love. The most splendid gift worth giving. (And re-gifting.) Happy Birthday Jesus. Happy Christmas All. * 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a