An Argument In Favor Of Gift Giving

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recently I've been watching my girls play "Christmas".

They scour the toy chest and pull out their favorite lovies,
the priceless ones that have been to all the doctor's visits and snuggled under the covers every night.

The hall closet is raided and bath towels are used to wrap their special treasures.

Giggling, they put their offerings under the Christmas tree and bolt back down the hall.

Landing in their beds and burrowing under the covers, they shout for me to count to three.

...one...

...two...

...three...

They burst into the living room, squealing at the sight of "presents" under the tree.

Unfolding the towels, they unwrap their gifts for each other.

They overflow with complete joy and pure delight in gift giving and receiving.


I think about the gifts I've opened this past year.

...all one thousand of them...

Counting gifts from God was awkward at first.
Slow and out of practice in the beginning, I struggled to get past the wrapping:
dirty dishes were dirty dishes and it took a few weeks for me to discover the gift of full bellies.

But I persisted.


I discovered that more gifts I unwrapped, the more I found just waiting to be opened.

Mountains of presents from heaven all shouting God's praise.


weeds unwrapped as messy wildflower gardens 
a seemingly dead shrub unwrapped as a thriving plant sprouting glossy yellow-green leaves
an awkward too-big piano unwrapped as a priceless family heirloom - chipped keys and all.



tangly baby hair revealed freshly cut bangs and braids
picky eating habits became a deep love for bananas 
a sick little one kept home from preschool turned nap time into an unexpected Bible study


the lesson of saving, then spending and silly superheroes and time spent writing

these are my gifts

they downpour from heaven and I drown in them


the challenge of scripture memorization with friends


imagination and blooms and little ones that love visiting their Grammy's stone


princesses and celebrating ten years of marriage and falling asleep on the floor after birthday parties



creatively serving my church and community with my family and dear friends

              

hot sand and ocean breeze and second cousins and first cousins and all the beauty that is family


kiddie pools and floaties and mud pies and preschool



leaves and slippers 

              

double scoops and water gun fights and summer nights 
and the warm air blowing through a torn screen

              

twinkle lights and hugs from sisters and 55th birthday celebrations and a little pal in my lap



quiet time to remember vows and promises made and kept

                

sunshine and shade and daddy-daughter dances and cousins

                

family vacations and train rides and bouncy hotel beds and exploring creation


hand-me-down dresses and birthday kisses

             

national parks and crystal lakes and late night card games with dear friends

             

simple days and squishy bellies and grandpas and swing sets and sunlight casting patterns on dirty dishes



boat rides and icy water spray and wind that tangles hair 

             

ferris wheels and an overview perspective and artistic expression 


lemon cake and growing up and new adventures and discovering static electricity



silly faces and race cars and visits with far away family

              

domestic routines and sizzling pans and persimmon picking and silly selfies


slow afternoons and puffy clouds and family dates and little hands writing little names



blinding brightness illuminating one thousand gifts that would have gone unnoticed


As my first one thousand gift journey rapidly approaches it's end,
I find myself completely captivated by God as He reveals Himself as the Gift-giver.

Delighting in us, 
He creates intensely thoughtful gifts
 and relentlessly lavishes them upon us.

We unwrap the blazing sunrise
and the crashing waves
and the changing seasons.

We are gifted with life
and the beautiful mystery of the universe
and the powerful Spirit of God within our hearts.

As I watch my littles play "Christmas", I'm acutely aware that gift-givers are God-like.

Which bothers me a bit because this Christmas season I've squelched gift giving
and when I crack this heart open I find the reasons why:
I'm weary at the pressure of wanting to find a good present that will be treasured.
I'm burdened by the time and the energy and the effort required to plan and shop and wrap.
I'm enticed by the idea that giftless holidays teach my children selflessness.
I'm confused about how to separate Christ from cookies and lights and trees and stockings and elves on shelves and snowmen and fiberoptic angels and candy canes.
I'm pressured by consumerism and obligation.

While all of these are legitimate feelings and concerns, 
I'm starting to think that my thoughts about consumerism and excess and egocentric children 
and the fear that the real purpose of Christmas will get lost in the chaos
are not resolved by the elimination of gift giving.

What if the answer is to restore gift-giving?

What if we snatched gift-giving back from the world?

What if before making our shopping lists we we asked the question:
what do the hearts of the ones that I love need?
Isn't this the question God asked in the garden when sin entered the world?

And then, what if we generously gave these heart gifts?
Isn't this what God did when He gave us the absurdly perfect gift of Jesus in the manger?



I'm still figuring out what this all looks like for me and my family this Christmas.

I'm finding that a heart gift Christmas list is difficult to write.

I'm finding that it takes time and thought and intimately knowing those on my list.

I'm finding that heart gifts are usually not items that come in packed in boxes or plastic.

I'm finding that giving a heart gift requires shopping through my life instead of a store.

I'm finding that it involves the giving of myself in one way or another.

To be honest, I'm finding it exciting.
I'm finding the child-like joy returning to my gift giving,
and I think that is going to be the first God-gift I'll count in 2014.




...

What are your thoughts on gift-giving?
Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.
I can't wait to hear what you think.
...


















2 comments:

  1. I find that the gifts I am most excited to give are the intimate ones from the heart of the giver to the receiver. They have been lovingly put together over time with the recipient in mind. Those are the gifts that I treasure giving and the gift is in the giving just as your little's have figured out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. YOU are a gift! ������

    ReplyDelete

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