Special-Tea: Luke 2:1-20
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. — John 3:16 (NKJV)
This year my husband and I started our Christmas shopping in September while we were on our 40th anniversary trip. It was his idea, not mine, to look for items in gift shops that would appeal to those on our Christmas gift list. I wasn’t thinking “Christmas,” but when he said, “If something jumps out at you for a particular person, get it.”
“Hmm,” I thought. “Not a bad idea.” Having some of the gifts purchased would take the stress out of the shopping season, which, for me, usually begins when I realize it’s almost Thanksgiving and I haven’t even made my list yet.
Now, I don’t like shopping any time, but Christmas shopping is especially taxing. The crowds make me feel claustrophobic, and the gazillion choices confuse and frustrate me. I’m besieged by the “what ifs” — What if they don’t like it? What if it’s the wrong size? What if they don’t like the color or style? I agonize over making sure I spend the same amount on each person on our list and that one person won’t have two gifts to open while another has only one.
Every year I tell myself I’m going to simplify, spend less and enjoy the season. But every year I do the opposite: I add more, spend more, stress more and enjoy less.
I’ve often wanted to chuck the whole gift-giving thing and spend the money on someone who wouldn’t have Christmas otherwise. Like the elderly couple I know who donated money to the Philippines, bought blankets through a church program for those who need them, and stuffed a shoebox with gifts to be given to a child through Samaritan’s Purse.
“Face it, folks,” she wrote on Facebook, “we have way more than enough. If you didn’t get a gift from us, someone somewhere is eating a bowl of rice, others are snuggling under blankets, a child is opening a Christmas box and, well, you get the picture.”
Another writing friend wrote about “The Best Gift Ever” on her blog: the gift of time. I thought about my grandchildren, who are growing up faster than my kids did. Time to spend with them is slipping away.
So this past week I set up “Grandma Time” with each of the three who live nearby. I played Yahtzee and Junior Scrabble with 6-year-old Deagen; baked cookies and played 500 Rummy with 11-year-old Madison; and played Scrabble with 14-year-old Brent (who beat me). Each one had supper with us on their special day. And next week, I’ll spend Grandma Time with each of the two grandsons in South Carolina.
I need to do this more often, not just at Christmas.
And next year, in addition to spending more time with precious family and friends, I’ll follow the example of my friends and give to those, who Jesus said, cannot pay me back (Luke 14:13–14).
Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be traumatic, if I remember that often the simplest gifts are the best — because they’re gifts from the heart.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Your Son — the first and most important Christmas gift ever.