I know that you are all waiting with bated breath to find out who was the not-so-great gift giver in my life. Well, it was my husband, bless his heart. I know that his aim in life is to please me, and I’m not just saying that, it really is. But, there was a time in our marriage when he was in great need of some remediation in the gift-giving department. Like the time he gave me a pair of size 9, hot pink, zip-up sneakers. I wear a size seven shoe, and I NEVER wear sneakers. Or the time when he put a huge bottle of Scope in my stocking. Huh. Then there was the time when he wanted to add to my fine china teacup collection by giving me a gigantic shrimp bisque cup and saucer. Lovely. I collected these sweet little teacups for years and on another year, for Christmas, he made a basket of coffee items including mugs with the Far Side Bears doing armpit, shall we say…flatulations. Nice. There have been countless times when he re-gifted to me! His wife! Can you believe it? One time, I found a huge basket all wrapped in cellophane in my car with all kinds of really great items---for a garage sale. I found out that he won it in a raffle with a 50-cent ticket. Not a good night. I could go on and on, but the piece de resistance was the time when he surprised me at work with several pieces of lingerie. He hung bras and panties that he had bought for me all around the break room. Why on earth he did this, I don’t think we will ever know, but he was trying to do something nice for me. I was embarrassed, but when I saw that they were all the wrong sizes, embarrassment turned into indignation. I had to call for help.
I enlisted my children to help their father. Of course, my son thought his dad was hilarious, so he hasn’t been much help, but my daughters have come through for me and with much retail therapy and creative think tank sessions, he is almost in full recovery. He is extremely thoughtful and has become a student of me. This is something I recommend for every married couple- Get to know each other and pay attention to the little things. I find that it is not great shows of ostentatious magnanimousness that are meaningful to me, but the subtle nods to my unique personality that he knows so well. When he stops by my office to bring me a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup, it’s because he knows I really love those and to show me that he loves me and thinks about my needs and wants. Each morning, when he brings me that cup of coffee, he is saying I love you and this is how I’m showing you because I KNOW you. He knows I love cooking, and that’s why he spent a week’s salary to buy me the limited edition Martha Stewart professional Kitchenaid Mixer. (That was magnanimous).
To me, that is the essence of the giving and receiving of gifts. The thing we all want is to be known and loved because of, and in spite of, that knowing. The old adage, “it’s the thought that counts” is true. I want the gifts I give to the people I love to convey a message: that I know them and care about them enough to buy or make or give them something they desire. Isn’t that what God does for us? James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (KJV). And in Matthew 7:11, Jesus explains it himself: “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (NLT).
So, that brings us to now- our most favorite time of year- Christmas, the season of gift–giving. Well, that’s what it is, isn’t it? I know we all want to think that this year will be different; this year we’ll spend less money and not go crazy buying things for people that they really don’t need or maybe even want; this year we’ll concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas- the birth of our Savior, the redemption of mankind. Yet, somehow, we get caught up in the mayhem at the mall. We make lists, check them twice, and shop till we drop. I, for one, say “go for it!” Not the mayhem, not the competiveness, but the giving. Give, give, give. It feels good to the giver and the receiver. We are made to give. I like the way Father Louis Studer stated it,
"Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, there is a generosity innate in us that drives our desire to give gifts to one another. Our gifts to others, like God’s gifts to us, are a way of expressing our love to the recipients. When we give a gift we are saying, ‘I love and care about you. I was thinking of you when I bought or made this gift and I am thinking of you now as you open it.'"
All of that is to say this: giving and receiving gifts is important to me. Whether the gift costs money or is handmade or is a gift of time, I love it. I love showering my kids and grandkids with gifts at Christmas time. My husband and I show each other love through the giving and receiving of gifts to each other even if they are not tangible. This year, be as generous as you possibly can. Give to your neighbors, your church, your hairdresser, your mailman; give extra to servers at restaurants. Show the love of Christ by your giving. He promised us that, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over” (NLT).