Christmas comes with gifts, and certainly that is one of the very best things about it. It might be more high-minded to say that Christmas is about more than gifts, but gifts wrap up the whole heart of this season into something surprising, loving, exciting, and given. Under our tree are crafted little creations from our daughters covered scotch tape and paper, marked with hearts and glitter. I can’t wait to open their little wonders. Along our street, neighbours are putting gifts on each others’ porches, and sneaking away hoping not to be noticed, grinning all the way home. Christmas cards take a front-and-centre place of privilege on our kitchen counter as we read aloud the greetings and stories from those we love. Christmas is a time for gifts and I can scarcely think of any better way than having this season couched in generosity.
While trips to the mall may have been replaced with delivery packages from our online shopping, we continue to buy and give gifts as much as we ever have. Often we stand in suspicion at the over-the-top giving of gifts and consider ways to cut back on the mountain of wrappings we collect and bag up. We wonder, at times, if we have lost the meaning of Christmas under the mound of plastic and trinkets. But all the giving and receiving of gifts simply reveals something true in each of us: we were made to give.
The Story of Christmas has been, for nearly two thousand years, a story of God’s gift of love to us. In fact, the whole story of the Bible can be wrapped up in a message of generosity, grace, and love, first from God to us, then from us to each other and those around us. The fact that we have this deep longing to give generously is not surprising to me: we seem to be made for it. Ask any grandparent and you will see the joy of giving in their eyes when they give something to their precious grandchildren. We give because we love, and that love is a gift that was first given to us and is now celebrated during this Christmas season.
Writer Frank Crane said, “Be a spendthrift in love. Don’t economize in love. Love is the one exception. It is the one treasure that grows bigger the more you take from it. Love is the one business in which is pays to be a spendthrift. Give it away, throw it away, splash it over, empty your pockets, shake the basket, turn the glass upside down, and tomorrow you shall have more than ever.”
Love is for giving away. It may take the form of a card, a barbie doll, a tray of chocolates, or a nice meal, but love can only exist as it is passed along from one to another. Loving people do not run out of love, in the giving they find more love to give. Those who hoard will find their white-knuckled grip on their stuff tiring and limiting, but those who live open-handedly discover an amazing capacity to share even more. That is what this season is all about.
May you discover the joy of this Christmas in the giving of gifts. May you delight in your own ability to be a giving person, and may you courageously experiment with new ways to give love to those around you. You can be generous in a thousand different ways, but this Christmas we remember that the love that compels each of us to give was first given to each of us – the love we carry in us is the very best gift of all. So from the Pouteaux family, and from Lake Ridge Community Church to you and yours, have a very Merry Christmas!