Thursday, December 15, 2011

Learning to Appreciate our Gifts

Shoppers are beginning to get that look of desperation in their eyes. They scramble to and fro on these last days before Christmas, searching now, not for that perfect gift for the ones they love, but simply for a gift so that the tree will not be bare. I’m doing the same. I still lack a couple of gifts before my gift buying is complete. In all the stress and trouble, I wonder: do we even remember the gifts we gave last year? Do we remember the gifts we received? If you’re like me, it takes some effort. If I can’t even remember those gifts, can I really be said to appreciate them?

G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.” Part of the problem is that appreciating things takes time. We rarely get off the treadmill of consumption long enough to recognize the beauty and the value of the gifts we already possess.

Sometime this Christmas, either before or after you unwrap the packages, pause and do some appreciating. Take time to give thanks for the greatest gifts in your life. My guess is that they won’t be things but people. And the things that matter most, will be the things that are most intimately connected to the people. I think of my grandfather’s watch. It’s not an expensive watch, nor is it a style I’d buy for myself. But it was his, and now it’s mine. And of all my various possessions, it’s probably one of the few I appreciate the most. Which reminds me, the perfect gift is not so much about the one who receives it (his likes, her tastes, their desires), but about the one who gave it (her love, his care, their kindness). At least for me, remembering that truth replaces much of the stress of this season with the joy of gratitude.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son . . .” – John 3:16

No comments: