How To Choose The Right Christmas Present
It's a reality that so many people spend a majority of their time preparing for Christmas by trying to find the right presents. Searching, buying, hiding, wrapping, are the main activities in the build-up to Christmas Day. And something that closely resembles panic sets in when, as seems to happen even with the best laid plans, these tasks are all squeezed into the last few days before, or even into Christmas Eve.
I too share some guilt in this. My first inclination would be to blame my heavy calendar. However, the truth is I'm hopelessly disorganised when it comes to trying to decide what I want to give to whom.
It seems important to give the right gift, and yet, as the wonderfully acerbic poet John Betjeman memorably puts it in his famous poem 'Christmas,' we often end up giving or getting 'bath salts and inexpensive scent and hideous tie so kindly meant.'
Betjeman isn't meaning to dismiss these humble gifts, however. his point is that the inadequacy of the things we give at Christmas does not matter, because no gift could possibly compare with 'this most tremendous tale of all,' the gift of love eternal in a recognizably vulnerable human form.
And yet, it still seems true that we all want our gifts to be valued and remembered. Though Betjeman is right to think that no gift of ours stands in comparison with God's gift, the desire that our gifts have meaning behind them has a good theological basis as well.
Giving is a way of putting ones self aside and making others matter. I choose the gift and pay for it, but what I choose and how much I pay is decided by your wants and needs. The right gift will always reveal our knowledge of the person who receives it.
And so it is with the Incarnation itself. It is a great mystery how the divine could become human, but however we understand it, it is essential to see that at its heart is God's setting aside His divine nature in order to enter fully into the humanity of His creatures.
May all your gifts be wrapped with love. At least it's a sign of apology for my giving you the same toaster(s) you gave me last year!