The Messenger

I’m so excited. Just one week from today, our kids and family will arrive. They’ll be home for Christmas! We’ll be together for three wonderful days and I just can’t wait.

The house is mostly decorated, guest rooms are ready. I have a few more items to tick off my gift and to-do lists, but generally we’re looking good on this end.

While the holiday season is not all about gifts, it would be foolish to suggest that gifts don’t play an important role in our celebrations. Even if haven’t yet begun to think about the gifts you’ll give those you love a week from now, don’t panic. It’s not too late! Stores will be open crazy hours for you the next eight days. And even though today, Dec. 16, is the last day for Amazon FREE shipping, Amazon has a shipping schedule for you late shoppers that guarantees you’ll get items before Dec. 25. Hint: Sign up for 30-day free trial unlimited Prime Shipping, use it starting immediately and then cancel anytime.

Or you can forget about shipping altogether because it’s not too late to make gifts—no particular skills or craftiness required. Ideas HEREHERE and HERE.

The simple act of gift-giving has become complicated. I blame that on the consumer credit industry. Think about it: You can be completely broke but still spend thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts—and believe it is not only your right, but that you are obligated to do so. (Please don’t do that!) It’s so easy to fall into the trap that says we have to spend a lot to be socially acceptable.

Gift-giving is a custom that has pretty much run amok. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to make wise and reasonable decisions about the gifts we give.

Can you recall the gifts you gave last Christmas? How those you received? It’s not because we’re total ingrates that we have trouble remembering the gifts we gave or even the ones we received. It’s because when it’s all over, the gifts pale by comparison to the joy they deliver—the love and best wishes for the season. That’s what we carry with us from one year to the next.

Gifts are messengers—tokens of the esteem we hold for people we care about. They deliver our love and our best wishes. Gifts express the fondness we have for another person. Without the care, love, or concern the gift is empty. Giving a gift just so you can mark a name off a list is a hollow effort that is likely to fall flat no matter how much money you spend.

If you struggle with the thought that gifts you give must fulfill the recipients’ deepest longings and fondest dreams, think of the gifts you will give in the same way you would think of a special meal you prepare.

You want the food to be delicious and for your guests to enjoy the meal thoroughly. But no matter how fluffy your mashed potatoes or delectable the prime rib, it’s still a meal and it will end. Your guests will not continue to eat the meal for months to come, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious and they didn’t enjoy it. They will take away the memories of the meal and the love with which it was prepared and served.

Your gifts should bring a season of joy, but it’s the memories of your expression that will live on.

If you don’t know what to give someone this holiday season, ask this simple question: What matters to him or her? You have to know this person pretty well to know the answer to that question. You have to play detective; pay attention, listen and observe.

Let’s say your grandmother really loves animals. In fact, she volunteers at the shelter two days a week. She is passionate about animal rights. Donating $20 in her name to the animal shelter would probably make her break down and cry. She would be touched that you cared enough toconsider what really matters to her.

Not every occasion requires a gift. Sometimes a card that you buy or make yourself in which you write a really thoughtful sentiment is an excellent way to go. Caring enough to pick out the right card and then taking the time and effort to write in it sometimes says, “I care!” even better than a gift could.

Being a responsible gift-giver will help you to be an excellent gift-receiver. Knowing that it’s the thought that went into the gift that counts—not the price tag—will help you to be genuinely grateful.

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  • Kathy

    You have a beautiful home Mary. : )

  • Betty Thomas

    Your home is lovely Mary! Have a wonderful Christmas filled with love and laughter. Thank you for all you do for us.

  • Donna Freedman

    What a beautiful photograph. I wish you the merriest of Christmases. Let’s all remember the reason for the season.

  • Connie

    Thank-you for sharing a photo of your home and for sharing your life with us. Merry Christmas!