Monday, December 3, 2012

Celebrating Christmas: The Secret of Gift Giving

Some days I think the wrong things are overflowing inside these four walls we call home:

boxes of Legos

and recycling bins

and mailboxes filled with ads, some bills and lots of catalogues

and baskets of laundry

and large plastic boxes filled with the tokens we've accumulated along the years.

The oldest, he complains about not having a cookie alongside his ice cream.

The little one, his temper flares when turn off the TV after an entire morning of Curious George.

The parents, we scoff whenever the Internet has slowed to a crawl or when there is mud tracked from small boots across the hallway floors.

And my own heart, it groans at the thought of yet another sinkfull of dishes, high and towering after a hearty, filling meal.

Light dawns on the reality of the lay of our slice of Earth -- that which we thought of as blessings has actually become overgrown.

We are chest-deep in a a mess of thick weed-vines wrapped around our hearts, binding us up in the tangles of overabundance.

There is pressure and suffocation and with every mounting item, the vines, they tighten and pull and smother out the gratitude that comes when our blessings seem few.

We don't want to be the Christmas grinches, but both John and I have been thinking about abandoning the tradition of gift giving.

My view from the chair. So tired but enjoying the peace

I've longed to take a torch to the weeds and attempt a controlled burn; and the thought of carrying in new seed to the overflowing garden makes me gasp a bit for air.

We weigh the idea heavily -- to radically abandon giving each other gifts and instead give generously to those actually in need -- and we cannot come to a peace.

While we're ready to untangle from the mess of vines, we know that others are not -- namely two little boys.

As we pray and think and converse over the weeks spanning before Advent begins, I'm reminded that clearing the visible weed doesn't rid the garden of weed seed.

We can remove presents from Christmas and reduce the amount of vines, but what good is that if we grow seeds of bitterness in the hearts of our sons? What good have we accomplished if we've stopped others from giving to our family out of love?

After all, there is joy in giving because when we give we emulate the best Gift Giver of all -- He who sent us a King of King in the flesh of a swaddled baby boy meant to plow the soils of our hearts and burn the bad seeds only to replace them with the fruit of the Spirit.

And there lies the secret of giving. 

If we want to best emulate the Best Giver, we must give not just good gifts, but irreplaceable gifts.

And maybe those gifts don't come wrapped in big, shiny packages and fit comfortably under the tree.

Maybe those gifts can't be stuffed into stockings or bought at the store.

Maybe those gifts never go on sale.

Maybe those gifts are tiny seeds of time spent together, memories made, lessons learned in living out loud, life experienced together.

Maybe those are the seeds of gifts that begin to grow in the heart and choke out the weeds, untangling the heart without, too, setting it on red-hot fire.


  1. Those gifts that grow from the heart, those seeds that we worry AREN'T getting planted - trust that they ARE taking root. We've had several Christmases these past few years with no gifts - the first time (about 6 years ago) out of financial necessity. We still got a tree, and had family meals and chose to spend what we had on outings - like a trip to the movies...And my teenagers we ok with that. Really, profoundly ok with that! Which was kind of a shocker, cause we've always been big Christmas gift givers. We've done this again since then. And this year they had one big item they each needed - so that's been bought, and Christmas will be "gift" free again this year. It's nice to know it can be either/or and that we're not controlled by all that bombards us. And, as you know, I so believe that what is IN your heart ends up in their that even the fact that you wrestle and pray about this filters down to who they are becoming!

    1. Thanks for that encouragement, Adrienne! And for sharing your experience. It's my prayer and hope that as we continue to discuss why we really celebrate Christmas that one day it will be THEIR idea to abandon gift giving to each other in favor of maybe giving to those who really are in need or simply just focusing our eyes during our celebrations on the real gift of Jesus. I appreciate your words, too, that the seeds are being planted and will take root. May it be so. <3


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