On December 6th we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. During, and even before the Christmas season, you may hear the name St. Nicholas. It is on his feast day when children in many parts of the world will wake up to find small treats in their shoes or stockings left to them, they’ll be told, by St. Nicholas. Christmas is a time of giving and receiving gifts. The modernized Santa Claus seems to come from St. Nicholas. “Santa,” is loosely derived from “saint,” and popular renderings of Santa include him with a bag to carry goodies for children.
Whether we believe in the St. Nicholas story or Santa Claus, gift giving is big business in our country at Christmas time. We are bombarded at this time of year with advertisements for every conceivable kind of Christmas gift. If we are truly honest with ourselves, do we need any of them?
Over the last several years I have come to the realization that those who are dear to me don’t need any of the gifts I might want to give them. I (and they) have learned that love and faithfulness are the best gifts we can give to those we care about. Since we have stopped giving material gifts we have found that setting time aside to spend time together is far more meaningful. Celebrating Christmas by having lunch together before or after Christmas is special. Or it might mean taking time out of a busy Christmas day to call the important people in your life. In my mind this makes Christmas celebrations more unique and loving.
Before you hit the stores for Christmas shopping (if you haven’t done so yet), take some time to think about what is really important about the special feast of Christmas and the special people in your life. Partaking together at church services, sharing a special meal together, entertaining family and friends are ways that we show our loved ones that we care. If material gifts are given make them meaningful as well. The cost is not the sign of caring, but rather, the thoughts and feelings we have about the person in choosing the gift is.
Can you make this coming Christmas more meaningful by consciously making love and faithfulness for the people most important to you the central motivation for all you do? A box of homemade cookies may have more meaning than an expensive piece of jewelry. A photo of a special time together may be treasured well into the future rather than a new shirt. Think about what kind of gift has love connected to it. Think about how you show your love and faithfulness.
How can you make this Christmas especially meaningful for those you love?
In what ways can you simplify your gift giving?