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I love Christmas – the lights, the music, the gifts, and the anticipation of time spent with people I love.
When I was younger, the gifts under the tree held the excitement of Christmas in the anticipation of, “What will I receive?”
As my children were growing up, it was the excitement I saw in their eyes as they opened their presents. Gifts my children gave me were like gold, made and given with loving hearts and hands – all they had – themselves.
As I get older, Christmas becomes a time of deeper reflection of the greatest gift God gave us: His only son, who came to teach us how to live and save us from our sins. It cost him his life.
As I reflect on the many gifts I have given and received at Christmas, I am reminded that perhaps the most important gifts we can give one another are not the carefully chosen and budgeted gifts from the store, but time to listen, loyalty, love, understanding, grace, and forgiveness.
Here are some of the gifts I am thankful for:
Laughter. It is the balm that covers disappointments, shortcomings, and failures. It turns them over and inside out so we can see how silly we are to put so much emphasis on things we have so little control over. It takes the sting out of grief and helps turn losses into wonderful memories.
Work. What would we do with ourselves if we didn’t have the opportunity to work and achieve, have a focus and purpose in life?
Choices. Every day, I can choose how I will respond to life. What a great gift! It is in the challenges of life that I have the opportunity to grow and become a better person. It is where I learn compassion and the need for others.
Relationships and family. Death has taken people I have loved. But God has given me new relationships, and old relationships that grow in depth, meaning, and love, as has my relationship with God.
The ability to create. We can create a new life, a new beginning, a new way to use our talents and abilities. How often do we throw away our unique selves by comparing ourselves to others or trying to be like everyone else? It is exciting to uncover and develop the special gifts God has given each of us.
A gift isn’t something you earn or work for. A gift is something given freely out of love.
May all of us unwrap and experience this Christmas the great gift of God’s love.