What Jesus Wants for Christmas

Verla--head onThis is the time of year when Conventional Wisdom (whatever THAT is) says we’re supposed to be “making a list and checking it twice,” because Santa is coming to town. Frankly, it’s more like Macy’s, Hallmark, Toys ‘R Us and Best Buy coming to town…and into our mailboxes and computers…to tell us all the things we must buy or receive to make our joy complete by December 25th.

Most websites will even cheerfully break down gift ideas by category–stylish gifts, food gifts, gadget gifts, environmentally correct gifts. Their lists are more intimidating than my list. How did I manage to live this long without all these things?

The gift list elves go into overdrive when it comes to recommendations for the hard-to-buy-for people on your list. Gifts.com ranked the Air Swimmer Remote Control Inflatable Flying Shark one of the top gift buys of 2011. What? You don’t have one of these bad boys? The helium-filled fish moves up, down, left to right, like a real shark and will reportedly stay inflated for weeks. Or, for the serious athlete, there’s the Garmin GPS receiver with heart rate monitor, a sports training watch that does everything but kiss you on the lips for completing your run, all for under $400. Is this a great country or what?

I’m really not a Grinch when it comes to Christmas gifts, although I do push back against the excesses and the manipulation of our emotions and resources in the name of Christmas.

But, that aside, who doesn’t like to receive gifts? I like receiving gifts any time of the year–especially ones that showed the giver had me in mind and I was not just another name to be checked off a list. I like to give those kind of gifts, too. In fact, some of the most memorable gifts I’ve received or given didn’t cost money.

On my daughter’s 18th birthday I gave her two journals filled with entries written about memorable events in our life together as mother/daughter from when she was age 10-18. Good times and sad times, funny things she said, kitchen catastrophes (mostly mine) as we cooked together, pet crises (including Pisces, the cat from Hell), disappointments, highlights, you name it. Just thinking about those memories makes me smile.

The journals represented a gift of my time. No cash required but, for most of us, it’s still an expensive gift because we never have enough of it. Maybe that’s why we reserve such a gift for those we love the most.

The journals were also a gift of remembrance–a way of expressing shared history that was special–even the hard parts–because we got through it together. It was a chance to acknowledge all the times I needed to ask forgiveness for not doing the parenting thing perfectly. And it was a way of affirming how special she was (and still is) and how much richer I am, having shared life’s journey with her.

Who on your list deserves such a gift? What about Jesus? We typically talk about Him as the Giver of gifts, not the recipient. Is He even on your list?

 Him:  Honey, what do you think we should get Jesus?

 Her:  I don’t know. Do we really need to give Him anything? He’s so hard to buy for and the shipping costs will kill us! We haven’t been to His house in ages. I don’t even know His size! Besides, He gets so many gifts, He won’t miss one more from us.

Well, you’re right. Jesus doesn’t need anything. But He went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate how much we mean to Him (which, of course, is the real story of Christmas). So, it’s no stretch to think He’d like to know He matters to us, too. (Do you like giving lavish gifts that go unacknowledged year after year?)

I’ll bet He’d love to hear you reminisce about your shared history with Him–the good, the bad and even the ugly–and to receive the gift of your forgiveness. Usually He’s the one doing the forgiving of us. But we can offer to let go of the harsh judgments we may have made about Him–when we erroneously presumed He didn’t love us, wasn’t listening or didn’t care, because He didn’t act on our behalf in the way we felt He should. I’ll go first. He’ll love it.

Surprise Jesus this year. Give Him the only thing He’s ever wanted. More of you.

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