Patching Cracks

This morning, I read an article on the most returned or regifted Christmas gifts every holiday season. According to the article, clothing is the most returned Christmas gift, usually because of issues with the article not being liked, not being needed, or not fitting correctly. In the arena of gifts that are given away again as gifts to others, the list is a little more expansive. It included candles, gift cards, picture frames, perfume, cookbooks, and fruitcakes. The reason I researched the idea of regifting is because I often find myself wondering as I am Christmas shopping, how many of the items I buy will end up unused, thrown away, or simply given away again. It seems like the gifts I think my kids will like the most are the ones they will play with the least. Throughout my Christmas shopping, I find myself wondering which gifts to my family and friends will fall into that category, unwanted or unusable stuff that ends up in a garage sale or given away later. This strikes me as particularly strange. My perspective on the reason for giving Christmas gifts is this: it is a way to demonstrate your love or care for folks in your circle of associations. The sentiment is essentially: “I care about you, so I got you a gift.” However, I think that this good intention gets lost pretty quickly in the rush to finish all the shopping and get everything shipped out in time to reach its recipients before the 25th. Instead of a terrific opportunity to tell folks that they matter, it can easily devolve into an opportunity to pull our hair out trying to meet a few social obligations before the deadline arrives. It’s unfortunate that this is the case, especially during the season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, which is God’s ultimate act of demonstrating His love and grace for us. God’s love for the creation is most concretely demonstrated in the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I love that we celebrate that gift at Christmas. Honestly, I love giving gifts as a way of demonstrating our love for one another. I sort of wish it was easier to cut through the trappings and craziness of the holiday and concretely demonstrate friendship, charity, parental, or romantic love. The whole holiday can get in the way of the message. Last year, I solved this by writing letters to a few people as a part of the gifts I gave. In years past ,I have also gone out of my way to invite other people into our Christmas celebration or taken the time to bring over food or shovel snow. It’s difficult to pull off if you don’t set out to do it intentionally, mainly because there’s so much to do to get ready for the holiday. However, if we’re not careful and intentional, we can easily get everything done on time, but forget to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.

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