Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Now It’s Christmas

Now it’s Christmas!

The droppings from the sky are equal parts rain and leaves. People are still talking about turkey and dressing, but except for a very few who celebrated early, most of us are still in the mouth-is-watering-for stage. With the month on the calendar still beginning with N, what makes for my premature declaration of Christmas?

This morning was the inauguration of the Great Name Exchange in the Cramer family. I’m not sure which child launched the process for the 2013 festivities. I only became aware of the forward moving plans when I was asked to pick names out of the proverbial, but imaginary, stocking cap.

The process of drawing names is just for the adult kids, mind you. Everyone wants to buy for the nieces because shopping for a little girl gift is as much fun as giving it. Big and little children alike are pre-programmed to gravitate to books, art supplies and science projects. Selecting gifts for the nieces keeps the spirit of childhood alive for people who have transitioned to the weightier affairs of life.

It is a lovely thing for a mother to see her children giving gifts to each other. It marks a transition from the tedious years of sibling rivalry to ones of sibling appreciation. It shows movement from a self-centered obsession—the family is all about me—to a selfless love—the family is really about us. It is an indicator that their father and I may have done something right, that giving them gifts made them gift-givers and not takers only.

Until recent years, when growing families and graduate school expenses produced tighter budgets, each child gave gifts to all his or her siblings (spouses included because in our family we make no distinction). The joy of selecting a pleasing gift for each brother or sister has been in no way diminished by giving a gift to just one.  If anything, it seems to enhance the pleasure—and not because it costs less and takes less time.

Giving a great gift involves thinking about the other person. A thoughtful gift often requires more thought than effort or money. It calls you to remember what that person likes, or doesn’t like. In our family, gift requests are always invited. In the midst of wish lists—which are sometimes presented with exact online links to minimize confusion, of course—you discover growing interests. You may find mutually shared common attraction to a particular band or a new type of cooking. In gift giving, you get reacquainted with the grown up but still growing person with whom you once shared toys.

Gift giving reveals the stamp of God on the human soul. He who is love can’t seem to help himself in giving to his children. I am reminded that many of the gifts we take for granted—water, air, sun, seasons, hope—come to people without regard to what they think about the Giver.

God’s gifts demonstrate how well he knows us—as if he has studied us in omniscient detail. His gifts reveal an overwhelming love. They are chosen to give us the desires of our heart. They are handpicked to be useful in a future known only to him. We cannot doubt the selflessness of his gifts. After all, he gifted us with his only Son, knowing mankind would reject and abuse him.

Christmas has begun. Let the gift giving continue.

If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him! (Matthew 7:11 Amplified)

Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]. (James 1:17 Amplified)