Give The Perfect Gift

Written by Angie Madrid

There is something really magical about Christmas that allows us to see the beauty in ordinary things. Growing up on the Canadian prairies, I have seen enough snow to last at least two lifetimes. Eleven months of the year you can ask me if I think snow is beautiful, and you’ll get a resounding “NO!” But in December I think snow is exquisite.

How can we explain the extra patience of harried drivers, or the greeting of “Merry Christmas!” from a stranger? What prompts us to share a little more than usual, or to show more compassion? What is it about the Christmas season that has the power to change our perspective?

Regardless of our age, there is a kid in all of us and maybe that is part of the reason. Maybe subconsciously we still believe that Santa knows “who’s been bad or good”, so we put in the extra effort for a few weeks in December — just in case. It’s pretty hard to be in a bad mood when bells are ringing in every mall and everything is decorated with lights, bows and garlands. The world is physically more beautiful at Christmas – maybe that’s part of it too.

But I think the main reason most of us soften during this season is that Christmas is the time for giving, and giving feels good! As a child, I remember gathering around the tree with my family. My favorite part was watching my Mom and Dad open the gifts I had chosen for them. Their smiles were worth more to me than any of the presents with my name on them. Of course I’d only be telling half the truth if I didn’t say that receiving something special is wonderful too. Knowing that adds to the pleasure of giving. We have the opportunity to make someone feel great!

I am reminded of the story by O. Henry called “The Gift of the Magi”. In it a young woman sells her hair to buy a chain for her husband’s train watch, and her husband sells his watch to buy combs for his wife’s beautiful hair. Both sell their most valuable possessions to buy a gift for their loved one and end up with gifts that are of no practical use to them. O. Henry summed it up when he said:

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men-who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

There is much joy to be found in giving. It’s not the size of the gift that matters, but rather the fact that it is given from the heart. What greater evidence of this than the tiny baby that was given to us 2000 Christmases ago¬†– a very small package, wrapped in rags, given from the heart of God. The perfect gift.

If you’re looking for a new way to experience the joy that comes from giving at Christmas, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make a donation to a charity.
  2. Donate blankets or warm clothing to a local homeless shelter.
  3. Spend an afternoon volunteering at a soup kitchen, or youth centre.
  4. If you don’t already know someone, ask a local church for the name of a needy family, and provide them with Christmas dinner and/or gifts for their children.
  5. Sponsor a child from a third world country, and send them a Christmas package.

None of these ideas require a lot of time, energy, or money, but they hold the power to change a few lives Рmaybe even yours.

For more information on how you can send a Christmas package to a child in the third world, visit: Operation Christmas Child. For more opportunities to help people around the world, donate to Global Aid Network.

The full text of “The Gift of the Magi” is available online.

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