One day last week Lily and I headed into Nordstrom for lunch and a look at some of the after-Christmas sales. A weighed-down man waddled ahead of us, assorted packages plastered like bulky barnacles to his chest and arms. Stuff to be returned here and there by a man looking none too pleased with his assignment. It brought to mind the words on some party napkins someone gave Heather. They show a woman dressed for Christmas in red with white fur trim, smiling and saying, “His thoughtful gift had exchange written all over it.”
Good for a smile, a snicker and wiping away a few crumbs. No laugh today, as the sight of one beleaguered man left me feeling slammed by a look into our culture of consumption and our saturation in stuff.
In our growing obsession with more, something’s off kilter with our gift giving and receiving, especially at Christmas. We re-turn, re-wrap and re-gift without re-morse. What have we exchanged for thoughtfulness? Simplicity? Gratitude? Relationships? Generosity? What have we exchanged for the time of our life?
When it comes to gifts, what does perfect look like? What is enough?
That’s part of what continues to nag at me about the Christmas story. The setting’s simple. The GIFT could not be more perfect. The shepherds race to a relationship they’re pretty sure they need. “You have a Saviour!” Mary and Joseph come across as grateful with little. The Wise Men are generous. And God who had first dibs on the very best, still kept us! The only exchange God made was heaven for a stable and worse…all for us.
How to re-spond?
For the time of your Life and mine.
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