Have you ever participated in a White Elephant Gift exchange and ended up with a tacky gift that you absolutely love (but you just smile quietly and keep it to yourself)? As the shopping season approaches (5 a.m., Kohl’s, been there, done that) my thoughts have been reflecting to what to add to my shopping list this year.
I flipped through the Christian catalog of books and gifts searching for ideas for some Christmas gifts this season for family members. A few years back I made a decision that I would no longer be tempted to buy the Family Size Popcorn Bowl Set–I would buy gifts that had the potential to make an eternal difference in people’s lives. That and. . . photos of my child. A mother has her limits of practicality.
A couple years ago I bought all the men on my list (Dad, cousins, etc.) Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge. I had read my husband’s copy and felt it was a book that could transform a life.
Last year, the couples on my list got the book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. Once again, it was a book I’d read that I wanted to share. The concepts in it are basic, but the result can be life-altering in one’s marriage or even just helpful in "sort of-kind of" understanding the opposite sex.
This year, "the gift" has not revealed itself quite yet. I think back to the collection of things I’ve learned in the last twelve months, and what jumps out at me that I could share. Sure, I’ve had a few experiences that have led to "gift ideas" I could offer:
Like RideMax, software to help you schedule your day at Disneyland so you can fit in eighteen rides in twelve hours and still fit in a mid-afternoon trip to the emergency room (my mom’s blood sugar was skyrocketting, but we made it back for the parade.)
Or, "Corelle Paul," the potty training doll that finally seemed to make things click for my 3-year-old after Elmo and M&Ms didn’t work. (Any mother will tell you whatever "makes things click" is worth their weight in gold.)
Somehow, these don’t seem to offer that feeling of "The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us," (Psalm 118:27). One would think that a well-known Christian catalog of gifts may have a good selection, but when I stumbled upon a FOOTSTOOL that has a painted photo of the nativity, I began to have those "Christmas retail blues."
Psalm 132:7 says, "Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool." The Bible also emphasizes that our kneeling at His footstool is Holy, and that God’s enemies will be made INTO His footstools (Hebrews 10:13).
Somehow I think this is one of those items God is rolling His eyes at. "What? What are you thinking? You painted the nativity on a footstool?" In what way, really, can a image of the nativity on a footstool be considered holy? is it just me? Am I missing something here?
I mean, honestly, how delighted would you be if you opened a gift Christmas morning from your family and it was a footstool with your photo decopauged across it for the whole family to enjoy?
I’ve tried to stock our store (The Comfort Zone) with some great items that people may enjoy themselves, or things that would make a kind gift. But it’s hard to know where to draw the line and not look like I am jumping on the retail bandwagon. When people order something, will the enclosed mini-Candy Canes with scripture on the packaging cause them to smile, or will they (you) frown and wonder how I could send a diabetic candy?
I don’t have perfect answers, but I do know that over 2000 years ago, in the town of David a Savior [was] been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke)
I know He is the answer to everything, and if there is any way I can encourage someone on my Christmas list who feels a bit lost, hopeless, or overwhelmed this year, I pray that I can find a way to tell them that our Savoir is the answer.
((And here is a plug that may fall under "questionable" but The One Year Book of Hope is excellent as a gift for someone feeling this way. I bought the majority of copies to give to friends, than I sold in the last few months.))
Whether it’s through a book, a CD, or even a nativity where all of the characters are made out of cats (yes, there IS one that is pretty cute at http://www.collectionsetc.com/Item76132.aspx if you are a cat lover, just $14.99 [grin]) somehow, we must reach out to them. Perhaps the best gift of all is a simple note that says, "I care," or a reminder that you still care when you send a postcard in February or March.
It’s never the gift that is significant, it’s the message behind the gift.
Blessings to you,