Or Is It?
Advent has not begun, yet the Christmas advertisements have already started on television and the shops and shopping malls are decorated. The annual consumer fest. has kicked off, with Christmas little more than the excuse for a lot of people. It’s not that I am anti-Christmas, just that by the time it actually arrives I’m pretty fed up with all the hype.
At Christmas, more than at any other time of year, we give and receive gifts. There are lots of people now who do not know that we give gifts at Christmas to represent the gifts by the shepherds and wise men to the infant Jesus Christ at his birth, they just know that we do it on the 25th December. What is perhaps worse, is those people who know the origin of the tradition but just do not care. Both of which points are really an aside to the main point of this article.
Do you like to give, or to receive gifts more and how much thought do you put into the gifts you give. How grateful are you for those that you receive? If we believe the marketing and advertising industry, there are any number of things that, they tell us, that make the perfect gift; they can’t all be right. No matter what we buy as a gift for someone it is never the perfect present, so what is?
I do not think that there is any such thing as a perfect present, at least nothing that can be picked up in your hand, or experienced on a day out somewhere. The perfection, or as near as it is possible for us mere mortals to achieve, comes not from what we buy, how much we spend, how big it is, what brand it is or where we bought it. Any closeness we achieve towards that perfect gift is never found in the gift itself but in the thought, care and love with which we choose it.
Sometimes the perfect gift is tiny and cheap, maybe even nothing more than a nice Christmas card. How often do we consider the potential consequences of what we give, especially if it might be a gift to someone less well off then we are. The giving of an expensive gift might, albeit unintended but given with the best of intention, be a burden or be perceived as such by the recipient. It creates a feeling of obligation, one that they can perhaps ill afford, financially, to return a similar cost gift. There can be times when our big, thoughtless gift, that makes us feel good in the giving, pushes someone to go without something, as they try to spend as much on us as we did on them but which we can easily afford.
The giving of something small doesn’t automatically make you miserly, it can show you care just as much as a big, expensive gift does. More often than we think, the perfect present can be free. Giving our time to someone costs nothing (financially) but can be the most satisfying and rewarding thing of all, for the giver and for the receiver. But of course, we never have the ‘time’ to do that in our busy lives, do we. We are always in a rush.
And what about how we receive gifts? Do we accept graciously and say thank you properly, especially when we are given a gift we don’t know what to do with or maybe don’t like or want? When we next see the giver do we remember to say how we have used their gift? Probably not. We should be as gracious receiving any gift as in the giving one.
This Christmas, let your most valuable gifts be the love and care with which you choose them and the graciousness and thanks with which you receive them.
Don’t get taken in by the marketing pressure to buy that ‘perfect’ gift, which of course becomes a bit more expensive each year. The perfection never comes from the size or price.