Gift of the Magi

4

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to the blog. I have been pretty consumed with the kids’ schedules. Noah had his Thanksgiving Fun Feast last week and I had volunteered to coordinate the festivities for the event. The goal was to create activities that would encourage the kids to reflect upon what they are thankful for. We made a Blessing Trail Mix with items that represented elements of tradition and gratitude; hats that looked like turkeys and written on each feather was something the kids were thankful for. They loved it! They also sang a couple of songs to all the parents. Noah was beaming in his paper bag vest and construction paper hat singing to me from the tall-kid-row about all he’s thankful for. I may have cried a little when he shouted, “Hi I’m Noah Torosian! I am thankful for my Mom!”

It seems ironic that this Christmas commercialism is right on the heels of a holiday meant to acknowledge our blessings and to give THANKS for all we have. These sweet five and six year olds had a blast without even thinking of gifts. It makes me wonder, if we took out the gift-giving frenzy of Christmas but kept everything else about it, wouldn’t we have another holiday eerily similar to Thanksgiving just with the much bigger focus being on the birth of Jesus? Weird–I know! Maybe Dr. Suess had it half right when that hairy Grinch stole Christmas. He really just stole the materialism, didn’t he? I’m kind of pro-Grinch these days, I think.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

This is probably my least favorite question and the biggest issue I have with what Christmas has become.

Yet I am a complete hypocrite having filled out my own “Secret Santa” list of ideas of what a person could give me if they drew my name from the bowl. But in all fairness, I couldn’t think of much. In fact, as my sister in law pointed out, last year I was drawing such a blank that I scrawled out “can of Sherwin William’s paint” as a suggestion. Why? Because I literally cannot think of anything I would want someone to buy me that I don’t already have.

How in the world can a person with so much ask for even more? I have my health. I have three indescribably wonderful children. I have a smart, handsome, thoughtful husband. I have a warm home. I have all the clothing I need and then some. I have three meals a day. Waking up every day to live this life is THE gift, isn’t it? But, I dutifully wrote out my suggestions; more STUFF to add to the pile.

So let me put it into perspective. See if you follow me on this and disagree. Because if I am missing something, I need to know. Maybe it will make me feel less like a Scrooge. But here’s the process as I see it:
You ask me what I want to receive for Christmas. You wouldn’t otherwise know what to give me. Yes, that’s kind of you, but now I feel obligated to buy you something. Isn’t there something you want or need? Oh! Well, tell me so I can buy it for you. So you’re going to spend the money you should be spending on yourself to buy me the thing I just told you I wanted. Does this really seem like the “Christmas” spirit?

Now, please hear me out. I do believe that some gifts are completely appropriate and justified IF they are given with truly generous intentions. I LOVE giving gifts. It brings me more joy than receiving them. My favorite gifts to give are those that were a twinkle of an idea formed at some point long ago when I’d overheard the person mention just how much they loved/wanted/needed/wished for a particular item. Then to see them open it knowing that I’d listened and remembered makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Example: One of the best gifts I ever received was from some of my friends back in college. We had stumbled across this retro lusterware tea set in a consignment store. It was this amazing orange set with black handles and a gorgeous, iridescent glaze coating the delicate ceramic. I had thought about splurging and buying it, but decided against it. It was more than I could afford with tuition payment due. My friends went back to the store later on and they pooled their money and bought me the set. I was so touched. We were young college students all struggling to save our money. I never would have bought it for myself. And it was a gift given from the heart. I still have the set and every time I look at it, I remember the kindness of those friends.

If a gift is given with an element of sacrifice or selflessness, it is a true gift. The commercialism that drives this season is what sickens me. There is nothing I need that I don’t already have. You know what I’d really like for Christmas? I’d like you to take the money or time you were going to put into going out and buying me a gift and give it to someone truly in need. Volunteer or take a tag off of a Giving Tree at a church and buy a gift for someone less fortunate.

If you don’t have an original idea of what to give, please don’t ask. That’s not a gift of the heart. That’s you going out and doing my shopping for me, and in turn I’ll do your shopping for you. Come on! That’s just depressing, isn’t it? A bunch of people running errands for each other. Nothing says Merry Christmas like me buying that sweater you wanted in the wrong size!

Think about the people you love and what they are interested in. Try to think of something along those lines. If you’re still not sure, maybe just spending time with them is a gift idea; getting to know each other so that by the time the next occasion for gift giving rolls around, you’ll have a better idea of what to give.

My favorite thing to give a person is a letter detailing the reasons why they are special to me. Words expressing my love for a person are the strongest, most effective way I can think of to show affection. And I guarantee, if you have nothing else to give, just telling someone how much they mean to you is the next best thing.