For all of my life at Christmas time it has been our family tradition to exchange gifts with one another. I have always loved the tradition. As a youngster, it was mostly receiving from my parents and grandparents – it was a joy to sit down on Christmas morning and unwrap clothes and toys – maybe some gifts that were expected, but often some pleasant surprises were hiding under the wrappings. There wasn’t much giving from my end back then for lack of resources, but those who gave to me didn’t seem to mind – in fact it seemed like they were just as excited about my unwrapping of presents as I was.
As time went on and I became a parent myself the roles changed, of course. My turn to be Santa Claus and watch little ones open presents with glee on their faces hoping for that special thing their hearts were set on. Probably it is parenting that teaches us the beauty of and pleasure from giving more than any other experience in life. A parent comes to understand that giving brings happiness even without an exchange. The joy in the hearts of sons and daughters and grandchildren from receiving becomes your own joy – it translates, somehow – it translates in a way that even multiplies the good feeling and we become more greatly blessed than our children as they play with that special toy.
This Christmas for the first time in a few years we were able to spend Christmas day with most of our grandchildren. You can see they are getting pretty well grown up. Three of the seven we were with are living out on their own and a fourth has a part time job as he attends high school. These four were givers this year as well as receivers. I watched as others opened gifts they had purchased. You could see the anticipation in their faces as the gift was unwrapped as they wondered if the gift would be received as special or not. You could see a little relief and the smiles of joy as the smiles and thank you’s and expressions of the gift being special were rendered. A transition takes place in us – those who grew up being receivers discover that giving feels good also. Many things change in the world as time marches forward. Isn’t it neat that some of the best things don’t change? In Acts 20 Paul quotes Jesus himself as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The generations pass by and by – it won’t be very many years until my generation passes – yet certain things which are at their core, good, remain and are a blessing to every generation. There is great hope in that fact. There is a peace that comes from believing that there is more going on around us than the surviving of those who are the fittest. Christmas shows us that though giving is not an act advancing the competition of survival – it is an act which makes life worth living – and what would life be without those kinds of things?
Thanks to all for making Christmas day very special this year – to the Grand Junction Church of Christ and Doug Clayton for the worship and wonderful Christmas sermon – to Jessica for the planning and pulling everything together – to Matthew for the place to stay – to Sierra for the work in allowing her place to be Christmas central and for her cooking those green chile breakfast burritos and Christmas dinner – and to Joe for smoking that great brisket ( the best I’ve ever eaten) – and to all my family for the presents and for just being family.