Monday, December 20, 2010
This whole gift giving thing really has me uptight.
In the last two weeks I have been lavished with simple, yet thoughtful gifts from new friends and co-workers--homemade cookies and treats, flavored honeys and syrup, handmade cards. The thoughtfulness overwhelms me and then I quickly realize my hands are empty and I have nothing to give in return. I feel like a Christmas failure.
I'm not an artsy-craftsy kind of gal. I would LOSE friends if I gave away things I made! Somehow a store-bought box of chocolates feels impersonal. I don't have enough money to buy each friend a new car, so my dilemma remains. What to give? How do I show my gratitude?
Today I had a new friend over for tea. I totally enjoyed visiting and hearing her story--so much so that we went overtime and had to quickly end things so we could hurry to other responsibilities. But it got me thinking. I felt so blessed after the visit. It was a real treat--a gift. But this was a gift I knew I could give in return--friendship!
Christmas challenges me to give what I have--to give of myself. I am especially drawn to the accounts of the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke that speak about the wise men and the shepherds. We sing songs about how great the wise men's gifts were: Gold, frankencense and myrrh. They gave what they had--they were kings!
The shepherds were astounded by an angel choir telling them about Christ's birth. In return they hurried off to find this baby they had been told about. No mention is made of them bringing gifts, even though they might have. What they DID do was spread the good news far and wide. They were messengers. They gave as they told others what they had seen and heard.
One thing is for sure. No one was having a "best gift competition" at the manger. All other gifts paled in comparison when laid at the feet of the greatest Gift of all. The shepherds and wise men both had the same response--worship.
So I'm realizing anew that it's not about my gifts--it's about my focus. If the gift is the focus, my stress levels start to rise and I'm sure I won't be able to measure up. The truth is, I won't. I don't. However, if I'm giving what gifts I have in order to honor Christ's birth, I feel alive inside. I am aware that I do have something to offer--myself.