It was almost the day of the 6th grade Christmas Gift Exchange. My mother took me to the store so I could select something that I could give to a classmate. She told me to pick out something under a certain dollar amount that would appeal to another 6th grade girl. Something that I might like if I received it. I wanted it to be cool, not a dorky gift and so I put a lot of thought into it.
The next day arrived and I placed my gift with the other gifts and waited impatiently for the fun to begin. The time arrived and numbers were drawn and the boys were to give to the boys and the girls were to give to the girls. It was all so exciting! I tried to imagine what I would select and how the girl that got the gift I brought would react. I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face! The gift that I brought would probably be the envy of all the girls.
I held the gift that corresponded with the number that I drew and noticed another girl opening the gift I brought. She was also excited and as she opened it, she smiled and squealed and was delighted with the gift and thanked me. I likewise tore open the wrapping on the box I held and opened the box. I took out the gift and stared at it. It was an orange with cloves stuck in it. An orange. Cloves poking out of an orange. Perhaps this was just part of the gift. I looked back in the box. Nope, just the orange-with cloves in it. What was I supposed to do with this! I couldn’t even eat it! I kept my poker face and smiled and searched for the person responsible for this. I saw who it was. A girl whose family was struggling and she was very quiet. She looked shyly at me and I thanked her and smiled. Our kind teacher walked over and said what a thoughtful, homemade gift that was and it had probably taken a long time to make.
In my selfish and limited 6th grade perspective I obviously did not get it. I missed out on an opportunity to help a classmate feel good about herself and that she and her gift were enough. Thank goodness my parents taught me to be polite and considerate enough to hold it together and not say negative things. But I didn’t realize it at the time that a $5 gift really wasn’t significant in the scheme of things and that people are always more important than things. I had so much more to learn about Christmas.
Like many, I thought that wood, plastic or fabric would make me happy. The funny thing is, that on Christmas day, for many kids, no matter how many gifts are under the tree for them, when that last gift is opened, there is a feeling of disappointment. It’s kind of a natural feeling because the buildup is big and then the finale, in our minds, is over. What we forget is that the good feelings of Christmas can last all year, if we learn that it really is better to give than receive and that giving of ourselves makes both the giver and receiver happy.
One of my favorite Christmas memories, is when our kids were about 11-14. We decided that our Christmas needed more meaning and we would make homemade gifts for each other. After the kids were done moaning, we got to work. We were all sewing and woodworking and putting time and thought into each gift. We helped the kids with their projects and they learned new skills. When the gifts were opened everyone appreciated each gift sincerely and the kids beamed with pride with what they had accomplished. It was a simpler, yet special Christmas and we were able to just enjoy the moments and being a family.
As parents, we may feel relief when we finish the shopping, wrapping and cooking. Children may feel relief when they realize that they were able to avoid the naughty list. But relief, is different than peace. True peace at Christmas and at any time will only come when we understand and recognize what Christmas is really about. That we celebrate Christmas not because a baby was born. There have been many, many wonderful babies born. We celebrate Christmas because of who that baby was and what He has done for us. That over 2000 years later He is still remembered for doing something that we could not do for ourselves. That the sacrifice that only He could make in the Garden and on the Cross enables us to be forgiven. His great gift of love is so miraculous and great, that no other could have given it to us. This gift is for everyone and one size fits all. It’s a priceless present. It’s the most perfect gift.
“Look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else.” —C.S. Lewis
Thank you for reading my blog and allowing me to be part of your year and your Christmas! I love writing this blog and expressing my thoughts and feelings, and hope you will also share your feedback and thoughts on my articles. Have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to the New Year with you…