It’s Christmas week! I love gift giving, and I like gift getting. 2020 has caused plenty a moment for us to think of the grim and the sad in life. It is difficult for us to look at the gifts that we have received through a year like this. But we need to; it reminds us that we are being blessed regardless of the crises we experience.

So, for Christmas week, I invite you to read some words I penned a while back. The reminders to reflect on our gifts is serious, but the list is not. Have fun and let me know if you fit in a different category of gift-giver!

I had an interesting conversation with a poor college student in the supermarket after church one Sunday. Being the Christmas season, we were reflecting on all the parties and gift exchanges that were on the horizon. It quickly moved from the joy of the gift giving, and receiving of course, to some of the obnoxious tendencies that seem to connect themselves to a group of people pleasantly exchanging inexpensive gifts. As we went through the list of offenders and their respective gift-giving offences, we realized how easily the sentiment can be lost and the ‘joy of taking’ can mark the season. Just so we understand each other, we both admitted how much we love the competition and excitement attached to these gift events!  I love all those stupid gift exchange games…yes, I am that guy.

A few arbitrary gift exchange categories:

The Gift Card

Does not put any thought or effort into the gift. Fulfils the cost requirements for the exchange but absolutely nothing further. As the exchange progresses the gift card becomes the coveted item, even though it was the least true to the nature of the event. No effort, heart, or thought; just results. People are satisfied because they just want the cash value.

The ‘Over the top’

Did you get the memo on what we were doing?  Did you catch the part about this being a ‘used gift’ exchange?  This item will either embarrass everyone else or make the situation incredibly awkward as all the other crap that is unwrapped is exactly that in comparison:  Crap. Every exchange is either a showcase or a display of how much this individual really cares and wants the moment to be ‘special’. In the process, everyone walks away feeling like they should have just stayed home.

The ‘Traded’ Secret Santa

The secret Santa gift exchange in Junior High brings back fond memories. Thinking you were part of a truly ‘secret’ event where you get to surprise someone with the coolest little gift, and vice versa done in your favour. Then the day occurs and you realize that all the blossoming romances that were forming were also busy trading names so they could give each other some incredible and awkward gift in front of everyone. That was special!  Unless you were not in that special group…

The ‘What did I get?!’

This is very similar to playing the stock market or investment banking. You get what you give. If not, then it is not worth participating anymore. Simple. I am in this to feel good about what I brought because I got something equally as valuable or better.

The ‘We have a gift exchange???’

Ever been to an office Christmas party and sat next to the one person who forgot that everyone was exchanging gifts that day?  Yeah, that guy. He probably does it in every group setting and on every occasion. How did you miss the gift exchange, but were able to remember to wear the stupidest Christmas sweater you could find?

The ‘I don’t like to exchange gifts’

Sorry, I can’t help you here. This is often connected with the person who does not like anything they receive from others, and has an exceptionally fussy set of gift receiving standards. They also tend to be exceptionally bad at giving gifts as well. What a shocker.

So how is your gift giving?

That was a fun list, and it is not as though I try to classify everyone I encounter. But there are some striking similarities I drew between this conversation on current attitudes surrounding giving and receiving, and what can happen in our personal evaluation of our life efforts. In a culture where achieving comfort and fulfilling all our wants often trumps conviction and sacrifice, it is easy to lose the meaning in our giving. Socially, the reason and style of our giving has changed. It is evident in the church and the community around us.

So how is your gift giving?  Do you see all that you do as a form of gift giving? 

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to your life of giving. And in the mean time, have a merry Christmas!

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