Over the past several years I've found it increasingly difficult to find the Christmas Spirit. Probably because the media and retailers shove their idea of what this blessed day is about in our faces before Halloween has even come and gone. But if we can hold fast to the true gift of his birth and celebrate it the way we choose. Not by feeling forced into giving the most expensive presents, but by giving gifts wrapped in his image, the most exquisitely wrapped gift, the gift of ourselves to those we hold dear! The following is an entry from Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy from which I read everyday. Maybe this can help you find your Spirit too.
Gifts of the Magi
Jo’s right. Remember when she grumbled about not having any money for presents in Little Women? Christmas is about gifts. Always has been. But we feel uncomfortable with this emphasis on gimme, gimme, gimme. Buy, buy, buy. Charge, charge, charge. We admonish our children to remember the reason for the season , even though we have difficulty remembering it ourselves when we are caught up in the chaos and commotion of the holidays.
Today let’s ruminate on the Real role of gifts in the Christmas story. Those gifts were wrapped in miracles, which is probably why we can’t find them in malls or in mail-order catalogues. The first gift was of Spirit: unconditional Love. The next gift came from a Jewish teenagers named Miriam, who was known to her family and friends as Mary. Her Christmas present was selflessness, the complete surrender of ego and will needed to bring Heaven down to Earth. The gifts of her fiancé, Joseph, were trust and faith. He trusted that Mary wasn’t pregnant with another man’s child; he believed there really was a divine plan to get them through this mess. The Child brought forgiveness. Wholeness. Second chances. The angels’ gifts were tidings of comfort, joy and peace, the reassurance that there was nothing to fear, so rejoice. The shepherd boy’s gift was generosity: his favourite lamb for the baby’s birthday present. The innkeeper’s wife’s gifts were compassion and charity: a warm, dry, safe place for the homeless family to stay, her best coverlet to wrap the new mother and little one, a meal for Joseph, the donkey’s fresh hay.
Three kings from the east traveled many hot, dusty miles following a bright star in search of a royal birth. The sages’ divination foretold the coming of the ‘King of Kings’; on their camels backs were treasures with which to honour his arrival. But when they arrived in Bethlehem , they found the newborn prince in a cow stall instead of a palace. The shocked Wise Men unwrapped gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but their real gifts were wonder, acceptance, and courage. They offered wonder by surrendering logic, reason, and common sense. Accepting the impossible, they suspended skepticism long enough to double-cross the insane King Herod, frantically searching for the child who would change the world. With courage – at the risk of their won lives – the Wise Men helped the young family escape to a safe haven in Egypt .
Of, yes, Christmas is all about gifts. Nothing but gifts. But such gifts! Gifts tied with heartstrings. Gifts that surprise and delight. Gifts that transform the mundane into the miraculous. Gifts that nurture the souls of both the giver and the given. Perfect gifts. Authentic gifts. The gifts of Spirit, a frightened teenage girl, her bewildered sweetheart, the child, the angels, the shepherd boy, the inn-keepers wife. The gifts of the Magi.
Unconditional Love. Selflessness. Trust. Faith. Forgiveness. Wholeness. Second Chances. Comfort. Joy. Peace. Reassurance. Rejoicing. Generosity. Compassion. Charity. Wonder. Acceptance. Courage.
To give such gifts. To truly open our hearts to receive such gifts gratefully.
Christmas just won’t be Christmas without any presents.
Sarah Ban BreathnachSimple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.