i love getting gifts. i also love giving gifts. Having said this, Christmas has been a sort of mix of emotions for me. When i was a kid, i got made fun of for having a sort of one track mind when it came to this holiday. i was after the presents. No question. But in retrospect, i was almost as excited to give people stuff, as i was to get my own toys. Now, i was no different than any other kid. If i didn’t get anything, there would’ve been tears, but there was one Christmas that i can point to as being the moment of realization in my life that it was better for me to give than to receive.
Mama and Da are both MASTER givers. They are WONDERFUL at getting people, not just stuff, but gifts that communicate love and identity and value. Every Christmas, when we were growing up, there would be 4 red Neiman Marcus bags under the tree for my mother and my sisters. Da would go to that monster of a store and pick out make-up and perfume and all kinds of girly things for my sisters. Seriously, the ladies working behind the counters RECOGNIZED him. They knew when he came in, he was gonna be leaving with some serious baggage.
Well, one year as i was playing elf, and handing out the gifts, as i grabbed for those bags to hand to the girls, i noticed that the tag didn’t just say from Daddy. It said from Johnny and Daddy. i broke down. Now, this melt down may certainly have been a combination of not sleeping well Christmas Eve and the straight adrenaline that comes from seeing all that stuff under the tree, but i remember, in that moment, being consumed with the thought, “i did NOT give them this!” i WANTED to have been a part of it, but i knew i hadn’t actually given anything. i knew in that moment that i wanted to be that kind of giver. The kind of person that people are excited about getting gifts from.
Fast Forward to yesterday. This year, i had the unique opportunity to actually give Lori most of the things i had been thinking about giving her. That’s not always going to be the case, but this year it was. We went ahead and gave each other our gifts this year, cause hey, we’re not kids anymore so we don’t have to wait. But when i gave her presents to her, i was twelve years old in my family’s living room all over again. i LOVED watching her face light up as she saw, not just the stuff in front of her, but the things that i was thinking about when i got them for her. It was WONDERFUL.
i want to be a great giver because i see the reward of that in the lives of my parents. They have taught me, as they were taught by their parents, and let me tell you what the secret to being a great giver is: Knowing Jesus. WHOA! CURVEBALL! i thought this post was just about getting and giving presents on Christmas. Well, at the risk of being overly corny, let me just say that’s exactly what this post is about. The greatest Giver of all eternity has given the greatest gift in the life, death and resurrection of His Son. If you don’t know this (and i mean know it in your soul, not your mind) then all the presents that you exchange this Christmas are nothing more than stuff. And stuff doesn’t last. We don’t give each other material things because there is lasting value in those things. We give them because there is lasting value in the person you are giving them to. It’s only a shadow of what our Father has done for us. And just like that Christmas that my father put my name on the bags next to his, our Heavenly Father has given to us, that we might give to others. Remember what you have been given this Christmas. Let that instruct your giving.