The following was published in San Clemente Presbyterian’s NEWSBREAK magazine. Editors are welcome to use it as a FREE REPRINT, simply by adding my byline. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
While making our lists and checking them twice, my husband and I dubbed our holiday gift-giving plan, “Christmas Light.” Not the kind of light that decks the front lawn, or twinkles from atop a Douglas fir—or even the Light of the world. Our “light” is a synonym for “fat-free”, back-to-basics, no frills. Remembering Christmases past with abundant gifts under the tree, I feel a little like the prodigal son, returning humbly, yet hopeful.
Whoever I ask about their all-time favorite Christmas gift, without fail, I’m told a story about a small but thoughtful gesture which left a lasting impression. No one has ever mentioned a material item that did not hold powerful emotional significance. When the wise men brought frankincense. gold and myrrh for Baby Jesus, what resonated with Mary was not their value, but what they represented—gifts suitable for a King.
Christmas itself represents the lasting impression of a small, but meaningful gesture: The humble birth of a baby to a young woman faithful to God. We continue to celebrate that birth around the world because of the Life it represents.
Two Christmases ago, after months of frustration and disagreement over what to name our unborn child, my husband presented a card addressed to my belly. In it, he shared his desire to call our baby Noah, a Biblical name I had always loved, but my unbelieving husband had not. His gracious acceptance has left a lasting mark on our family. Two years before that, his gift to me was his mother’s wedding ring and a proposal. This is a man who knows how to give good gifts!
This year, I’m going to approach gift-giving the same way. In order to do this, I must thoughtfully consider what is fundamentally important to the receiver, embrace the workings of their heart. Rather than standing in line for the latest whatever, I will stand for something greater.
I’ll give gifts that represent something greater; not only will the thought be what counts, it will matter most.