Have you ever thought about why we give gifts at Christmas? If you google the subject you will most likely find a slew of articles describing the gifts brought to Jesus from the 3 wise men as the original example of gift giving and the source of our current tradition. Maybe you’ll read some things on the generosity of Saint Nicholas for those less fortunate as an example of giving. I’m certainly not qualified to argue with either example of gift giving as an origin for what we do today. However, as a believer in God, I have often thought about what Christmas has become.
The lengths we go to now to provide gifts for Christmas have in many cases reached budget busting and reason defying levels. A recent survey found that the average American (person, not family) is planning to spend over $900 on Christmas gifts this year. A significant percentage of those surveyed will spend well in excess of $1,000 on gifts. I hate to admit that in my household I suspect our spending will exceed the average. Great for the economy no doubt, but is the amount of money we spend really what matters this time of year? Mind you, while my wife and kids will sometimes refer to me as Mr. Scrooge, it isn’t that I don’t like giving gifts. I can assure you that I enjoy gift giving as much as most. I just think that with all the concentration on finding and giving the perfect gifts we have perhaps lost sight of what really matters and the true gift of Christmas.
You see, I don’t view what the wise men brought or what Saint Nicholas did, while certainly good, as the defining examples of what giving at Christmas is all about. I think we can all agree that it is fine to follow their examples and give things for Christmas. After all, their gifts were very thoughtful and had great purpose behind them. Ours gifts can as well, particularly when we set aside some of our gifts to give to those who have real and pressing needs. However, the true gift of Christmas was from God Himself as He came in the form of that baby named Jesus to fulfil His own sacrificial plan to save mankind and take care of our most pressing need. In a literal sense God did not give an object or thing but He gave Himself. Why? The simplest explanation is that He loves us that much. (John 3:16) If you’re looking for an example to follow in your giving this Christmas, His would be the best.
Go ahead and wrap up some things to give to your family and loved ones but don’t spend so much that you have trouble taking care of your regular obligations. More than anything else don’t forget to give something of the best gift you can give; yourself. What do I mean? Just make sure you don’t forget to love on those who are important to you this Christmas with more than just things to unwrap. Trust me when I say that the way you treat them, the words you say, and the time you spend will be remembered far longer than whatever stuff they unwrap. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!