As we bust now headlong into the Christmas season, I am in the paradox of trying to do something deeper than gifts, while at the same time trying to figure out which gifts to buy and for who. It is not a mystery to me why people just dive in and submerge themselves in the pool of consumerism. It is just easier. You might want to argue with me on this, that’s your right, although you’d raise some eyebrows by talking back to your screen. In my opinion, which is generally the one that I write about here, it is easier to bridge your relationships with gifts, even meaningless ones, than to figure out a way to invest in them more personally. There are, I think, a few reasons for this. For one, it’s easier because many will give you lists of things they want or need. Or for some people, what they want, like or need is fairly obvious. So the challenge is the prices, the crowds, and the time. It’s a logistical challenge. Now don’t misunderstand…I realize that these logistical challenges can be huge and often maddening. But stay with me for a few more lines.
To really invest in someone…what they really need…what they will really remember…what will actually fit them and they won’t be searching for the gift receipt…you need to invest relationally. The thing is, there are no lists for that. Your friends and family are not going to list for you some of their emotional, relational needs that you could fill and make their Christmas an incredible experience. In fact, if they did give you a list like that, your best course of action would be to run…fast…away. You yourself probably would not want to give a list like that to someone. You’re not wanting to be known as the “needy” friend.
In the 90’s I read a report that stated that in this new century, the most valuable commodity would become time. I think that this has absolutely come to pass. Even the wealthiest individual does not have enough of it, and they realize it. My own personal thought on this is that this is the biggest unspoken motor that is driving the economy of the holiday season. We buy because it is ultimately, in the end, no matter what our credit card statement reads in January, less costly than human relational interaction.
I know that there are sometimes logistical hurdles to relational giving. Location might be a hurdle. Most of us live around or with our cell phones… How about sending a 30 minute call instead of a 30 dollar sweater? I’m just thinking out loud here. I am really the worst of the worst when it comes to the time thing. Drop a note in the comment section if you have other ideas. I am also not advocating no gift giving either, but you could do so much more with so much less by placing yourself in the gift somehow…most of you anyway. If you are a needy person, give the gift of not being needy for the season. That will be more valuable to your friends than you can ever imagine. I’m celebrating a season that honors a life that was given for all. I guess that the least I can do to honor that is to give a bit of my life as well. Merry Christmas.