Swearing off the exorbitant gift giving of Christmas is something I cannot help but get behind. However, we also run the risk of being, well, scroogey. Giving gifts is something that is fundamentally human and to relinquish the practice to those who trample each other at Walmart might be as much of a concession to consumerism as maxing out the visa cards. “Spend money or don’t give gifts.” That doesn’t sound at all right to me.
We say, “Its the thought that counts.” But I have to admit that sometimes I have thought, “which thought exactly was it you had when you made me a toilet paper cozy?” The generosity is great but what do you think about when you think of me?
I hope my good friends are not reading this because this year I am giving some of them imaginary gifts. Now I can see where this could seem quite awful. Let me explain. This year I honestly really don’t and its sometimes hard because i would see something online or have an idea and know I couldn’t get my hands on that whosamagadget. So I started keep a journal. It goes something like this.
This year I know just what I would get you. I have a list of things and I want to tell you why. On my list I am going to get you new brushes and a canvas. Something happens when you paint that just brings beauty to the world and I love it when it does.
My list says I am going to buy you some cool plates, napkins and some glasses because I think you let people in your life. People feel at home around you. You are hospitable in a way and with a grace I really appreciate, like that time I came over and stayed till two talking about Wilco. It was just some harmless fun but I left stronger.
I would buy you all these things and more if I could to just try to begin to tell you… You are the gift.
I can tell you for certain that I would rather sit around Christmas morning sipping cider and sorting through a pile of letters from people who love me, than all the boxes in the world.
The best gifts name us. Even if we can’t spend the money, we certainly can continue to bless other people. The best human exchanges call out the beauty and poetry of the recipient. It not only celebrates who they are but believes in their future. We could also buy the paints and brushes if we can. To some degree we should, because we are making an actually investment in that persons life. That is faith. That is hope. It is love.
The idea that we have the power to name each other is always true. That means that this time of year we have an incredible opportunity to call out the best in others. It might be as easy as asking what I can give them that says, “Thank you.” because in some way they have been the gift. And if we run out of money we can always, y’know, just say it.