December 25

Today's quotation:

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.

Peg Bracken

Today's Meditation:

We've been constantly moving towards more materialistic Christmases for decades now, ever since the insidiousness of marketing became so incredibly intrusive, first with the television and then later with the Internet.  There are many people out there who want to convince us that the people in our lives want things that we have to buy because, of course, when we buy those gifts from them, they make money.  It's painful to hear every year that Christmas is a multi-billion dollar business holiday rather than a holiday of love and peace and hope.

Of course, it's fine to buy Christmas presents.  I love getting a book that someone picked out just for me, or a sweater from a store that's not hand-made (how many are these days?).  And I love finding just that perfect gift in a store, one that I know the recipient will just love.  But I try not to make those the only gifts that I give.  I also try to find things that I can make, things that I can do for someone else, that will be very nice gifts.  And these things don't need to be the gifts they find under the tree--perhaps fixing someone's car for them, or babysitting for them so that they can go out on a date, or a pretty card with a heartfelt message can show your love more than a store-bought something can.

When we think of what we're going to give to others, it's important that we consider who they are and what they want and what our relationship to them is.  Our goal shouldn't be to find the perfect present, because there usually isn't such a thing.  Our goal really should be to give them something that will brighten their day, to share with them something that we know is special to them.  It can even be something fleeting, like a box of their favorite candy that they don't buy very often.

Many people have disappointing Christmases because they simply can't think of the "perfect" gift--or because they don't receive it.  I want my Christmases to be bright because I was able to share some of my time and/or effort, giving a gift that may not be something material, but that is something special to both of us.  The things that we find under the tree can be very special, but the gifts that come from our hearts can be extremely special, too, and sharing them can brighten our lives just as much as they brighten the lives of their recipients. 

Questions to consider:

What kinds of gifts can you think of that you can give today, with no preparation or shopping involved?

Why have we come to see Christmas as a material holiday rather than a spiritual one?

What kinds of things brighten your life?  Would those same things brighten someone else's life, too?
For further thought:

The joy of brightening other lives becomes for us the magic of the holidays.

W.C. Jones

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