Remember When… ?

LAH_1716Christmas is drawing near and there’s still that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. They certainly don’t need more stuff, yet you want to gift them with something special, something that shows how much you appreciate them. Don’t give up. You don’t need to buy that fruit cake or “tower of chocolates.” Invest in a memory instead!

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My Gift

The story of Israel and Judah is mostly a sad one. King after king rejected God, with disastrous consequences. David’s example of passionate obedience became the “gold standard” against which all the future kings were measured—and most were found wanting.

Solomon, with all his wisdom, still married foreign wives, who brought their pagan idols into their marriage and into the popular culture. It’s therefore no surprise that his son Rehoboam became an idolator. Consider 2 Chronicles 12:

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One-stop Christmas Shopping

You’re going to hate me. I’m already done with my Christmas shopping, and I had fun doing it! Since most of my shopping was done online, it was inevitable that I’d stumble across some totally cool items, something that would make the perfect gift—or at least stun the recipient.  Unfortunately, none of them were quite right for anyone on my list. Since these finds are just too good to ignore, I’m passing them along to you. Who knows, maybe one of these is just what you’ve been looking for!

bana leaf decalBanana Leaves Fresh (1 Lb) Bag 16oz Banana Leaves. I had no idea that you could buy banana leaves. Apparently, they’re an essential part of cooking and/or serving food in India, the Philippines, and other tropical locales. If you don’t want the real thing, you can get paper imitations. In fact, you can even get fake banana leaves with fake food on them (as illustrated here)! Where would you stick this banana leaf decal? If you get the real leaves, it would probably be a good idea to accompany them with an appropriate ethnic cookbook.

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God’s a Father Too

presentsThis Sunday is Father’s Day. You remembered, right? If you believe the ads, we’re all supposed to run out and buy our dads a tie / polo shirt / hand tool / golf club and wrap it up in manly paper. Along with that, we’re to buy a card thanking him for fixing everything / providing money / putting up with our youthful selves, and promising him a day in the hammock / on the golf course / at the BBQ.

You’ve made your gift list… something for your dad: check. Your father-in-law: check. If you’re a mom, the father of your children: check. If you have grandchildren, don’t forget to include your son or son-in-law. Now you can relax and look forward to the big day!

Well, there’s someone you forgot. Or should I say Someone. Ohhh, right, God is our Father too. Good grief, what do we give God for Father’s Day?

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“But I Didn’t Get YOU Anything!”

You’re standing there, awkward, embarrassed. Someone you know—a friend, an acquaintance—has surprised you with a Christmas present. And you didn’t get them anything.

Maybe they view your relationship differently, or maybe they’re just generous. It doesn’t really matter at this point. Our culture tells us we should have bought them something too.

I grew up with this mentality. If someone invited my parents to dinner, they felt pressured to invite them back. This was a huge source of stress, since my mom didn’t exactly practice hospitality, she entertained. It was a big production and everything had to be perfect. I got the sense that she was more concerned with the ham, o’gratin potatoes, and peas coming out exactly right than with our friends having an enjoyable evening.

All that didn’t matter, though. The important thing was to reciprocate.

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Getting Gifts

The gifts were wrapped and stacked under the tree, but my friend seemed strangely uninterested in the ones with her name on it.

“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.

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Christmas Shopping Suggestions

Thanksgiving is over. While some of us have jumped the gun and started decorating for Christmas, Black Friday acts as the starting gun for the full-fledged marathon. We now have permission to hum “All I Want for Christmas” and other spiritual carols, erect plastic snowmen in our yards, and go shopping!

In general, I do not like to shop, especially for myself. I consider it a chore, not a recreational activity. But with our family’s birthday season in full swing and Christmas only a month away, I’ve been going outside my comfort zone—actually visiting stores and looking through catalogs. I have to admit, shopping for others can be pretty rewarding.

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What to get the Person who has everything

Are you a last minute shopper? Judging from the crowds in the stores and the never-ending ads on TV and radio, you have plenty of company. Usually, I’ve almost finished my Christmas shopping by now—at least for the “easy” people on my list. But it’s the proverbial problem—what do you get for the person who has everything?

It’s astounding that we can even ask that question, really. After all, how many people in the history of the world literally have everything they need and most of what they want? And how can I, with my strictly budgeted gift fund, possibly get them whatever they might lack?

The real eye-opener came earlier this year when, at my family’s request, I tried to make my own wish list for Christmas and my December birthday. It was hard. Aside from a few minor wants (certainly not needs!), I couldn’t think of anything. I finally wrote down a couple of CDs I would enjoy, some books I’d like to read, and a list of ways I’d like to spend time with each person. Then, at the top of my list, I wrote “chickens.”

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