Have you bought all your presents yet? You’ve made the list. You’ve checked it twice. How do you determine what presents to give the naughty and the nice? For that matter, how do you determine what present to give grouchy old Aunt Matilda? No matter what you buy her, she’s gonna complain. Do you do your best to personalize your gifts or do you just buy ten of something and that covers all your male coworkers, ten of something else else and the ladies are covered? How much thought goes into each gift? How much money?
At various points in my life, I have either absolutely loved or completely hated the buying of gifts. In my early post-college years I led a campaign in my family to do away with the buying of gifts altogether. Instead we would each buy a ten dollar gift for an exchange game and then instead we would all save up our change over the course of the year and at Christmastime we would count it, roll it, and each of us would pick something out of the World Vision Catalog or the Samaritan’s Purse Catalog roughly equal to our fraction of the total collected. It was a great idea and it lasted a few years before the presents came back and less and less money seemed to be collected each year.
In the long view it seems that most gifts tend to be fairly insignificant and quite forgettable. I remember getting a blue shirt from Moda for Christmas a couple years back but beyond that I can’t remember a single Christmas present I have received in the two Christmases I have been in Turkey. I’m sure I got some. I am sure I bought some as well, but I cannot begin to say for what and for whom. It is a different dynamic here but I know that for the last few years I was in America I probably “returned” roughly half the gifts I did get so that I could get my proper size or (better yet) something else entirely. How many of you are guilty of the same? Don’t you think sometimes the best presents are the ones that include the gift receipt to make this exchange easier?
There are two gifts, one given and one received from my childhood that have made a huge impact on me even to this day. The gift given was one I had just made earlier that Christmas Eve and wrapped up as an extra gift for my dad. He tried to look surprised and pleased as he opened it up. It was one of those “Thank you so much… um, what is it?” moments. You see, I had made my dad an origami spaceship. It never occurred to me that I’m really into spaceships but my dad isn’t. He isn’t really that much into origami either, and even if he was, at 5 years old, my origami skills left much to be desired. All I knew was that I had made an origami spaceship and was quite pleased with myself for doing so. So, naturally I wanted to give it to my father. To him it was nothing, to me it was my best.
My favorite gift received was a GI Joe Hydrofoil. It wasn’t so much the toy itself as it was what it represented that touched me. You see, I was probably about eight when my sister and I were creating our Christmas lists. We were writing them down with the help of a wide eyed perusal through the JC Penny catalog. While I never truly considered myself poor, even at this young age I had somehow learned to be “budget conscious” in creating my list. I did not want to ask for anything I knew my parents could not afford. So in writing my list I meant to put the GI Joe Hydro Sled which probably cost about 8-10 dollars. Instead I accidentally wrote down the Hydrofoil which was closer to the 70-80 dollar range. When Christmas came and I opened that box, I didn’t know if I should be horrified at the realization of my mistake or overjoyed at receiving something far greater than I had dared to ask for.
What can I give to the King? This is the question the Little Drummer Boy is asking. Others have told him they are going to see the new born King and commenting on the gifts they will bring. The boy wants to come as well, but he has no gift. He can’t compete financially with those wise guys bringing their gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Anything he could bring wouldn’t even be able to compete with the adult shepherds. He’s got nothing. How do you buy presents when you literally have no money? Ever been there? I have. Last Christmas. So what do you do in that situation? You make, You invest time, You remember then remind, You write, You care. You be there. Whether your bank account has ten cents or tens of millions, these are still the best Christmas presents. That Little Drummer Boy? He came. He gave his talent, developed through the investment of time. This was the greatest gift he could possibly give.
The greatest gift I can give this holiday season is the gift of all of me to my heavenly Father. The way I give this gift is by investing myself, my time, my talents, and my treasures into the ones he loves. That means my neighbor. That means my coworker. That means my friends and family. The reason I love to give at Christmas is the same reason the Drummer Boy gave: I want to see Jesus.