“Oh, I don’t pay attention to which gifts are for me. I think of it as a family thing… we exchange gifts. I don’t get excited about getting presents.”
My first thought was, “I sure do!” I love to receive gifts.
As a child, I treasured the anticipation leading up to Christmas, wondering what surprises would magically appear that morning. Now that I’m all grown up, I still get that tingle of excitement. Of course, now I know that Christmas isn’t all about me, and I get just as excited about giving to others, but yes, I still love to open presents.
They don’t need to be big or fancy or expensive. I just love the thought that someone cared enough about me to pick out something they think I’ll like. “Gifts” is one of my love languages.
I’m sure my friend thought she was being spiritual with her lack of excitement. But think a moment. If you go to the time and expense to come up with a gift for someone, don’t you want them to be excited?
If my kids had opened their presents Christmas morning and merely thanked me politely, I’d have wondered what I did wrong! Did I not understand their likes and dislikes? Are they disappointed? Maybe I don’t know them well enough. As a giver, I want the recipient to be head-over-heels thrilled with what I’m giving them.
Consider God, the biggest giver of all time. All throughout the Bible, God is described as giving gifts to us, His children. He gave us an amazing earth, full of plants and animals—aardvarks, orchids, lionfish, and banyan trees—just so we’d have a fascinating place to live. He gave us food to eat—papayas, steak, chocolate! He gave us brains to appreciate the beauty around us, to be able to create things from the raw materials we’d discover. We have precious metals with which to create sparkling jewelry, and silk to weave into lustrous fabrics.
As if that wasn’t enough, He gave us one another, so we could appreciate Him together. We have friends and family to love and be loved.
Most of all, He gives us Himself. And when we went and messed that up, He sent Jesus to make it right again. Look at the price God paid for us to be with Him.
Even more incredibly, there are still surprises to come!
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
Do you think God wants us to disregard what He’s given us, so we can be focus on others? After all, isn’t it more holy to give than receive?
Too often, we think of gratitude as something solemn. All those prayers intoned from the pulpit in our old church—“I thank Thee O God for these Thy wondrous gifts….”
Where’s the jumping up and down? Shouldn’t we be more like the families in Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, who fall on the ground when they move that bus?
Of course, anticipating the gifts we receive on Christmas in no way diminishes the importance or need to focus on others. We know that. Getting excited over receiving something doesn’t mean we’re being greedy or selfish. But just as we want others to get all excited upon opening a package, I want to give others the pleasure of watching me show my joy, too!
I assure you that I’m checking under the tree frequently, in the off chance that one of those packages has my name on it. I might gently shake it a bit and try to guess what it is. And come Christmas morning, I’m tearing off the paper!