The familiar smell of coffee delighted my senses as I stepped into my favorite local coffee shop. I examined the shelves. This could be perfect! Each item seemed unique enough to be personal and general enough to please anyone who drinks a morning cup of coffee.
I picked out and purchased two great Christmas gifts.
I small-talked with the cashier, placed my items in a bag, and stepped out into the crisp beginnings of winter weather and walked briskly back to my car.
Then it hit me.
“What if she doesn’t have a coffee grinder?”
I tried to ignore the voice inside my head.
“What if I can’t get the price tag off? I was told he especially likes coconut or hazelnut flavored coffee, but I got the special Holiday blend instead. Maybe this gift is too hipster. What if my friends think this gift is too generic? Maybe I didn’t do enough research to know what she would actually like… What if I’m the only one who actually likes coffee??”
This spasm of overthinking is only one instance of many over the holiday season.
But this time I stopped to ask myself – why is this the norm?
If Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, we shouldn’t feel this sense of panic or doubt rush over us every time we click “checkout” or hand a loved one a wrapped box with a bow.
Is it reasonable to truly believe the phrase: “It’s the thought that counts?”
Why do we give gifts in the first place?
I tend to go deep, even on silly questions of bewilderment like this one.
The answer, of course, stems from the reason we celebrate Christmas as a whole.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
God is with us. He is with us. In case you missed that… God is with us, people!
This is literally the perfect gift of all time. When we truly begin to understand what this means, our hearts will be overwhelmed by love and mercy.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
This truth may make the new set of pajamas I bought for my sister seem trivial at first, but then I think of what it represents. We exchange gifts to remember, celebrate, and reflect God’s perfect and free gift of salvation. We exchange gifts to show, receive, and spread this love. Don’t let the stress of finding the right sweater for your husband get in the way of why you’re celebrating this way in the first place.
Important things to remember
Here are a few things to focus on as you put those final gifts under the tree this season. They’ll help you keep the real meaning of gift-giving at the forefront of your mind.
1. There is strength in caring deeply.
If you’re going to great lengths and feeling a significant amount of worry over a special someone’s gift, it may just mean you care for this person deeply. Remember that this – true friendship, love, and community – is a gift in itself. No matter what you end up giving your person, be sure to express how much you care.
2. One reaction doesn’t define a relationship.
Lord willing, we will see many Christmases. Some gifts will win, others will fall flat, but at the end of the day, it’s the actual relationship that counts.
3. Gift giving makes you a better receiver.
Remember that each person who gives you a gift has their reasons for choosing it. Even if it’s not perfect or not your favorite, be grateful for the act of love and the participation in the celebration!
This Christmas, when I give or receive a gift, I’ll be thinking about my Savior, his love for me, and how much I want to reflect that love to the people around me.
It really is the thought that counts.
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