It takes me about 3 weeks to get in the mood of buying presents. What that means is every year around December 23, I get the energy to go Christmas shopping. Don’t get me wrong…I know what I am getting myself into. Long lines, crowded aisles, disorganized displays, and traffic. It all comes with the territory and as one woman said today in Target, “You can’t get mad at the world when you come out this late in the season…you know what you are gonna get.” She is so right.
As I stood in a moderately small line, I reflected on all of the hustle and bustle to buy gifts before Sunday morning. For some of us, the gifts we give on Christmas are an overflow of affection. If you are one of those lucky ones, you are confident that your families and friends would be just as happy with you if you spent no money on them. If only we all felt that way.
There are some of us who buy gifts for totally different reasons…
We buy gifts because we have not been great parents this year. Our hope is that one $300 purchase will help our kids forget 11.5 months of terrible parenting.
We give gifts to friends at times because we are too proud to say “I am sorry, please forgive me”. We hope that the Starbucks gift card will be an acceptable substitute for a real conversation.
Some of us buy gifts for spouses because we feel guilty. Our hope is that going overboard for Christmas will make up for the tougher days to come.
As I looked at people in the checkout lines, I wondered if they were placing too much hope in the gifts they were giving. And then I looked at my basket and thought about the conversations that might need to take place instead of a gift in my own life.
Maybe I am over analyzing people’s Christmas gift giving. Or maybe it is all too often that we do things (even give gifts) to make up for our mistakes, faults, and hidden guilt. Giving gifts is pretty harmless. Hoping those gifts will fix problems is dangerous. At the end of the day, gifts will not fix our problems.
Once upon a time, we were alienated from God. This was a problem that all of humanity faced. To fix the problem, God did not give us a flat screen television or an iTunes gift card. He gave Himself: Jesus — best gift ever.