Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Are the gifts wrapped? Maybe you are stumped about what to get the teacher this year or a special friend. There can be a lot of stress around gift giving at Christmas. The pressure to get the “right” thing for each person. At our house in the past when the kids were little, some years we would open presents all day on Christmas and not be done and have to continue on December 26! Then as the kids got older, we went to one big gift. But that one gift had to be just right. . . Yikes!
I recently read a beautiful line in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient: “We seemed to be interested in things that could not be bought or sold.” It is a reference to a small group that was obsessed with exploration of the desert. But I love that line, “We seemed to be interested in things that could not be bought of sold.” When I think about it, it is the things that can’t be bought or sold that are the most important, that are of the most value.
This is worth remembering as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus is important not because of what he owned or gave away, but because of what he taught, the way he looked at the world, and the love he imparted. He shows us community, forgiveness, healing, love, friendship, generosity, and compassion. These are things that cannot be bought or sold. They are values, attitudes, morals. These are the things that dictate behavior. So, really, they are the most important things in life for they drive our choices and our actions. Christmas, then, is about things that cannot be bought or sold. Maybe thinking about that will take some of the stress out of gift giving this season!
For reflection: What gifts have you received that cannot be bought or sold? What gifts have you given that cannot be bought or sold?
Prayer: We are grateful for Jesus and all that he teaches us about the good life. Through him we learn to take delight in a life of giving, service, solidarity, and friendship. The gifts that we receive from Jesus cannot be bought or sold. In our consumerist, materialist culture, may we tune our hearts to value most what cannot be bought or sold. Amen.