Every few days my wife and I sort through the seemingly endless Christmas ads. There are all kinds of gifts one can buy. There is a Playstation 2 for Bob, an Xbox 360 for Ted, a Darth Vader alarm clock so sleepy head , Billy, will wake up on time, as he repeats over and over, “The force is with me!” Their mother, Carol, hopes she’ll get a Nikon camera. Her husband, John, wants a Dewalt Cordless Combo Drill Kit. Uncle Tom wants a 55 inch Big Screen TV.
We forget no one on our shopping list. It is our way of expressing our love for those we care about. What concerns me though is that the receiving of gifts has become of far greater importance than it should be. I enjoy getting gifts just as much as anyone else. However, I remember in my childhood, the joy of receiving a hand-made gift of wool mittens and a scarf. The person who made them sacrificed several hours of their time to make them for me. Every time I put on my mittens and scarf made me feel like I was receiving a huge love hug.
My wife, Karen, is gifted at doing cross-stitch. When she is at a Tim Hortons enjoying her coffee, people come by to look at her work. They say how beautiful it is. Others who cross-stitch talk with Karen about the countless hours that go into making a cross-stitch picture.
Karen is delighted that her cross-stitch opens the door to conversation about the struggles in their lives. The present of caring for others, including that stranger you may only meet one time in your life – that is the greatest gift of all we can give. It doesn’t cost one cent.
Recently, Karen came home filled with joy! A German woman insisted on buying her a coffee and apple strudel. Karen tried to tell the woman she could buy her own coffee. She could only get out the words. “I spill”, when the woman went to the counter and got Karen the coffee and strudel. It was a gift given expecting nothing in return. That’s true giving. That is what Christmas should be all about. It’s not about how your friend got more gifts than you or more expensive gifts. Christmas needs to be about how we love one another.
Karen is currently working on her cross-stitch project called The Musical Kitty. When it is completed it will give many people who see it a few moments from the stresses of their lives to see something beautiful.
This Christmas try to offer some gifts you made yourself. Write a poem, song lyric or a letter to someone who has been upon your mind. To your surprise you may discover this was the best gift the person ever received.
While you are spending time with loved ones, take some time to think about the best ways you can express your love. Offer what help you can to the Syrian refugees. Donate clothes to them you no longer need or give canned goods. Give the enduring gift of your time to help heal the inner suffering of the Syrian men, woman and children, who have seen family, friends and colleagues brutally murdered.
Let us work together to show terrorists that our compassion is stronger than their hate.
Christ was despised, rejected, mocked, beaten and crucified, and yet He still loved. His love is the greatest gift He left with us. It is there whenever it is needed. It costs nothing.
Loving – that is the true meaning of Christmas. That message over 2,000 years ago born in a manger in Bethlehem is as relevant today as it was then.
It is my prayer that whatever is happening in your life, that the meaning of Christmas would become real to you. May you feel the spirit of Emmanuel, God with you, come alive. I promise you if you receive this gift, your life will never be the same.
I received Christ’s gift of love over 33 years ago. I have never returned it to sender.
Karen Osborne B.A. Christian Clinical Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, graduate divinity student at Trinity College University of Toronto. D.Sc. in Psychology, St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin Osborne, B. Th. Canada Christian College & Graduate School. B.A., M.A. Christian Clinical Counseling, M.A-Th.D. Applied Theology student majoring in Psychology St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, D.D., D.Sc. Christian Clinical Counseling, Diplomate in Traumatology American Board of Traumatology Examiners of St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, Diplomate in Creative Ministry St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin Osborne is a member of The Word Guild, which is a Christian writer’s group. Please go to https://thewordguild.com for further information.