Christmas is coming!!!
At the Park home, our decorations are up. We went to a tree farm and found the perfect tree. We took out our eclectic collection of ornaments, our little Christmas village, and our Christmas train. And of course, our most precious decoration, the nativity scene made of olive wood straight from Israel.
It’s fun to display our “Christmassy stuff” and while we’re at it, there is a yule log DVD playing on the TV with Christmas music in the background.
Christmas can bring so much joy. All the lights, tinsel, gifts, and music can create an atmosphere of cheer and laughter and happiness.
However, Christmas can bring the reverse. It can bring anxiety as we rush to the mall or to the big box stores to find the perfect gifts. It can bring frustration as we encounter impatient people who are out to do the same thing.
Maybe you are shopping online. Although bypassing the lineups and the packed parking lots is a good deal, there is still the issue of spending a lot of money.
Because at Christmas time, there is this expectancy that, we have to buy gifts. We feel that we must show our love and appreciation through that picture frame, that bath soap set, that purse, that action figure, those video games and so on… Meanwhile, our bank accounts get drained, our credit card debts rise, and our stress levels increase each year around December.
Is there a better way?
The truth is, there are other ways to show our love and appreciation to others. Although buying something can be a show of love, so can our time spent with that person. It’s about giving “presence” over just “presents.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I love presents! I love giving presents. But often the presents that we give, though they may cost a lot of money, actually have little value. They may give momentary pleasure to the recipient, but after some time, it ends up being a dust collector, or worse, trash.
I believe God is the ultimate gift giver and we can learn from God, how to give gifts at Christmas.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God loves us so much. And God’s expression of that love was sending Jesus to come into our world, into our mess, into our despair and give us hope through His presence.
This Christmas, let’s try not to get too stressed over the gifts for people. That doesn’t mean we should put the kaibosh (A Seinfeld term for terminate!) on gifts totally, but think of something that promotes quality time spent with one another. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Consider giving presence over presents this Christmas, and rediscover that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.