by Dale Reeves
Pastor of creative content
You ever grapple with this question when you are looking at those on your Christmas list . . . “What do you give someone who has everything?” I know I have. Some years we spend countless hours checking out items in a store, on a website, or in an online ad, hoping to find the perfect gift for someone who seems to already have everything they want and need.
Perhaps you’ve been invited to participate in what my family likes to call “The Dirty Santa” Gift Exchange. Others call it the White Elephant Gift Exchange. You may know the drill. You are supposed to spend not less than $10 and not more than $20, and bring an item for the gift exchange that either (a) You actually are hoping to get back yourself, or (b) It is the hit of the party and the gift that everyone wants. All participants are assigned a number and when their number comes up, they can either “steal” a gift that someone else has opened, or they can unwrap a new gift. Some families have almost come to blows over this spectacle. If you end up getting a lame gift during the exchange, you usually stuff it in a closet for the year and pull it out next December for the annual gift exchange, rewrapping it so that it is unrecognizable to all participants in the yearly ritual.
A few years ago, I actually came up with some guidelines to pass on to others in a community group in which I came out the winner of this “gift exchange.” So, in the event that you must participate in a gift exchange of this type this year, I offer the following tips for successfully winning this competition:
- Don’t be content with what you have.
- As much as possible, trade up—even if you don’t really want a particular item—each gift is only a “pawn” that allows you to remain in the game.
- Be as conniving and manipulative as you need to be to win.
- If you get something you don’t really want, do your best to deceive others into coveting what you own.
- As a last resort, talk your friend or spouse into trading for what you really want.
I hope you realize by now that my “tongue in cheek” rules for winning at the Dirty Santa Gift Exchange are intended to be sarcastic, as they are in direct opposition to these words Jesus spoke, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Since Christmas is really about celebrating God with us, the Godhead come down to earth as a baby, what should you give this Christmas to the One who already owns everything? The Bible says that God owns everything (Psalm 24:1) including every animal of the forest and the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). Perhaps these words I penned can offer some possibilities:
When Christ was born in Bethlehem on that special chosen night,
The shepherds came with staff in hand to share in Mary’s delight.
They gave of their time and offered their praise to worship the newborn King;
Then returned to their sheep on the grazing hill filled with joy from this happening.
Some time later the Magi arrived, wise enough to follow the star.
The light from the East led them to the house; they traveled from distance afar.
When they saw this child, God’s chosen One, they honored by bowing the knee.
Then presented him gifts: gold, incense, and myrrh; then returned to their far country.
When the shepherds and wise men resumed their lives after beholding “Emmanuel,”
Were their lives ever the same again? How many and who did they tell?
When we come to worship at the feet of Messiah, when we come to offer our praise;
Can people tell that we’ve been with him by the change they see in our ways?
Each time we worship the one we call Jesus, we have the privilege to give;
By the way we offer our adoration and the way we choose to live.
We give to him by giving to the least, we give by giving our best;
And when we give of ourselves to our brothers God sees that we, too, are blessed.
So, this season, my friend, I ask of you, “What will you give to my Lord?”
A meal, a gift, some clothes to meet needs? Give without care for reward.
It’s Jesus’ birthday we celebrate, and there are lots of things we can do.
Just seek God and open your eyes, then act on what he shows you.
May this Christmas season find you not joining in the greed of our culture, but rather in the generosity shown by our heavenly Father when he sent the greatest gift of all to many who already thought they had everything they needed.