Christmas is a festive time when many families come together, homes are decorated with trees hung with ornaments and lights and sumptuous dinners are prepared. Christmas also can be, for a variety of reasons, a time of stress. One source of stress is the oppression of the shopping list. The longer the list, the greater the anxiety—what shall I get for this niece or that cousin or friend? How do I avoid giving a gift that’s too similar to what I gave last year? And of course there are the demands of children who want the latest video game or electronic gadget. Bending to the pressure, many of us join the legions of shoppers hunched over and weighted down by bags full of holiday things.
Amidst it all, we lose sight of the meaning of Christmas. We forget to tell our children why we give gifts in the first place—the story Christians believe about the first Christmas’ gift to the world of the Prince of Peace. When he walked on the Earth, he spoke to us of the gifts that really matter: “For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” This message of giving speaks to what’s good in and required of all of us.