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The Gift of Christmas

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by Theo Nicolakis

The Christmas season is such a beautiful time of the year. Lights, candles, and cutout snowflakes begin to decorate our city’s streets. People begin to adorn their homes with the colors of red and green, wreaths, candles, and dazzling arrays of lights. These decorations even spill into our schools and businesses. That’s the Christmas season! That is the Christmas season?

This past week, as I was speaking with one of my staff members, we began to discuss putting up Christmas decorations in the office. As we were talking about Christmas decorations, she told me that at her son’s school, her son’s class had to write an essay on what Christmas meant to them. When her son showed her the essay he had written, she did not see any mention whatsoever about Jesus or His Birth. So she asked her son why he didn’t mention anything about Jesus. He responded to her and said, "Well mom, Christmas isn’t about Christ anymore"; that’s not what it is about anymore? Then what is Christmas about? "It’s about presents,"he said.

It’s about presents.

When I first heard this story, I was shocked and disturbed; but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that he’s right. Christmas really is about presents.

But what kind of presents?

It’s about a father who punished his three-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Since money was tight, he became furious when his little daughter tried to decorate a box with gold wrapping paper and put it under the Christmas tree. Yet, on Christmas day, the little girl brought the gift wrapped in gold paper to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy." When he saw the gift, he was embarrassed by his earlier reaction, but his anger flared up again when he unwrapped the gift, opened the box, and found it to be empty.

"Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside of it?" he shouted. With tears in her eyes, the little girl looked up at him and said, "Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into the box and put them in there for you." Her father then smiled, put his arms around his little girl, and begged her forgiveness and kept that gold box by his bed for years so that whenever he was discouraged he would take out a kiss and remember the love of his little daughter who put it there. — The gift of love.

It’s about presents. Christmas really is about presents.

It’s about a contest held to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old boy whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked the little boy what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing… I just helped him cry." — The gift of consolation.

It’s about presents. Christmas really is about presents.

It’s about a four-year-old who went to the pediatrician for a check up. As the doctor looked down her ears with an otoscope, he asked, "Do you think I’ll find Big Bird in here?" The little girl stayed silent. Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her throat. He asked, "Do you think I’ll find the Cookie Monster down there?" Again, the little girl was silent. Then the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her heartbeat, he asked, "Do you think I’ll hear Barney in here?" Oh no!", the little girl replied. "Jesus is in my heart." — The gift of faith.

It’s about presents. Christmas really is about presents.

It’s about God, who loved each one of us so much that he gave us his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. — The ultimate gift.

It’s about presents. Christmas really is about presents; but it’s not about the presents we give that we bought at the local Toys – R – Us, or the local department store. It’s not about the giving of money; Christmas is not about a holiday season.

Rather, Christmas is about the gift of giving of ourselves. Giving of our time and talents so that we might touch the life of another. And the reason why we give of ourselves is because we commemorate the gift God gave us — His Son.

So what gift we will give this Christmas? But not only this Christmas, but also every day of the year. Will it be the gift of love by telling our family and friends how special they are to us? The gift of consolation by remembering those who have no one else to remember them; by visiting those who have no one to visit them? Bringing the gift of laughter to those who are in sorrow; imparting the gift of faith, by keeping Jesus Christ as the focus of our Christmas.

Therefore, how we can give of ourselves is perhaps summarized best in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi who said:

O Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive—
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.



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