I've read God Calling as part of my morning routine for years and years. This morning the message really seemed to jump off the page at me. The reminder was to give of ourselves--our prayers, our time, our thoughts, our presence, our love--before we ever get out our checkbooks to buy a gift. It is so easy to rush out and find a nice sweater, candle, CD, or gadget, wrap it in pretty paper, and wait excitedly for a loved one to open it on Christmas morning. But when we begin to stress about how "little" we have to give, we can think of all the real gifts behind the material, hold-in-your-hands one. We can pray for the happiness, protection, security, and growth of the person--that's a gift. We can call them on the phone and share a little of our time with them. That's a gift. We can spend a little time thinking about them and remembering all loving things they've done and being grateful for their presence in our lives. That's a gift. And we can open our hearts and meditate on the preciousness of that person to us, which I believe adds more light to the world that everybody feels. That's a profound gift.
And when we receive in this same spirit, a new understanding emerges. Unwrapping something on Christmas morning is a joy, but maybe what we're really hoping for is some token that it matters to that person that we're on the earth; that we're loved; that we are connected and wanted and valued; that some other human being understands (or wants to understand) us. That might be a lot to expect from a scarf or a tie. But when we open our hearts and minds to receive everything that goes along with that gift--prayer, time, thought, presence, and love--we can truly know how blessed we are. And then we can continue to give from that richness.
This year may our holidays--Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, or a celebration of our own creation--be blessed with an abundant understanding of what giving really means.