A meditation on Christmas gift-giving

With Christmas less than three weeks away, most folks’ attention now shifts to getting those last few presents located, purchased, wrapped, and placed under the tree. True to form, eighteen days out,  I’ve yet to buy my first gift.

I have done ZERO shopping. I avoided the megastores on Black Friday (and the mom-and-pop ones on Small Business Saturday). On Cyber Monday, I found myself less enamored with all the great deals on Amazon, and more amazed at the Internet retailer’s announced plan to offer, in the next two or three years, 30 minute delivery…via drones…right to our front doors!


Meanwhile, I find myself with no presents procured. Christmas is coming! No drones–at least this year–will be flying to my rescue on Christmas Eve. I’ve got to get on the stick. (Please, someone remind me again why it would be so terrible for me to sit down this evening and just write a bunch of checks and be done with it.)

Gift-giving is a mixed bag. It can be fun…the thrill of the hunt, the pleasure of finding a genuine bargain, the joy of expressing affection in thoughtful and creative ways. But gift-giving also can (and often does) morph into a frustrating, exhausting ordeal. We know something’s gone terribly wrong when gift-giving becomes a guilt-induced have-to, rather than a love-prompted get-to.

Gift-getting is equally tricky. On the most extravagant Christmas of my youth, I got a bicycle AND a small black & white television set. Two big, expensive gifts in one year! I remember thinking This must be what Christmas is like for the Rockefeller kids each year! But my shiny new bike quickly got scratched. And the VHF antenna on my TV soon snapped, meaning I could only watch our three (and a half) channels with the help of a misshapen coat hanger. February had barely arrived, and the glory of my Christmas bonanza had given way to disappointed disillusionment. 

I want to propose this: Before another gift gets purchased this season, and certainly before any presents get opened, can we all just hit the pause button? Can we quit obsessing over the trinkets and gadgets we will give and get, and focus instead on God’s indescribable gift to us?

The most familiar verse in the Bible describes the first Christmas in these words: “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son.” The original Christmas gift wasn’t a cool new Keurig or a fancy flat panel, but rather Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Matthew gave Him the “nickname” Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), which in Hebrew  means God with us.

Stop and ponder that. Consider the implications if it’s really true? God with us…GOD with us. God WITH us. God with US. It’s a breathtaking phrase no matter how you say it.

The gift most worth getting–and giving–this Christmas?

“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem” (Luke 2:10-11, NLT).


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