5 Immaterial Gifts With Eternal Value to Give Away This Christmas Season
It was another busy day amidst the season of peace and joy. There were gifts to buy, cards to order, school programs to attend and guests to host. My home looked as if a few of its inhabitants had been vaporized at the climax of some massive reorganization project, leaving their clothing and material goods in random messy piles on the floor.
My Father Wanted “Peace and Quiet”
All of a sudden I understood what my father had meant. Every year, when I asked what he wanted for Christmas, he had responded instantly with the same three words in the same even, matter-of-fact tone of voice. “Peace and quiet.”
I never took him seriously, and he always smiled after he said it. It wasn’t that he saw Christmas as a hassle. It was just that the things he truly wanted in life were not things that could be boxed, wrapped and tied with a bow.
What if, this year, we turned our focus on the giving of gifts with eternal value?
I don’t mean we need to skip the tangible gifts altogether. But how about being really purposeful in giving those around us the kinds of gifts that impact the human heart the most? Here are some ideas:
1. The Gift of Time
For some of us, spending time with our close family and friends is already our favorite thing about the holidays. But how about reaching out to some of the people who don’t come to mind first when we think about how we’d like to spend our Saturday evening?
I’m preaching this to myself here as much as anyone else. There are so many things that I need and want to do on any given day. I tend to see unexpected visits or phone calls as interruptions. My perspective changed some years ago because of something C.S. Lewis wrote. He pointed out the folly of our belief that we start each day “as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.” The truth is, “man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift.”
In light of that reality, let’s learn to be generous in blessing others with our time.
2. The Gift of a Kind Word to Someone Who Desperately Needs to Hear it
We live in a world of complaining, criticism and competition. Kind words, when they are personal, genuine and timely spoken are a priceless treasure.
I’ll never forget the time when, as an exhausted mother of toddlers, I received a simple note in the mail from an acquaintance. It was a word of encouragement, reminding me that the seemingly thankless work I was doing every day as a mom was work with the greatest possible significance.
Those words were water to a parched soul. And in many harried moments since then, they have been a source of strength and comfort. Oh, to be the giver of such a gift!
3. The Gift of Truth
It’s always easiest to tell someone what they want to hear. But it isn’t always loving or kind. Sometimes, what our loved ones need most is for us to be the one to speak a hard truth to them, in gentleness and grace.
4. The Gift of Forgiveness
We’ve all been hurt, slighted and offended. Sometimes in big ways, by people we love. Other times, we take great offense at minor offenses — at the driver who cut us off in traffic or the lady who jumped in front of us in the checkout line.
To truly forgive a person who has wronged us is to give a gift to both the other person and to one’s self. It is to recognize that none of us is a finished product yet, that we all have bad days and that we all need room to grow.
5. The Gift of Love, Especially When It’s Not Easy to Give
It’s easy to love the people in our lives who are pleasant and kind to us. But many of us interact on a regular basis with people who don’t fall into that category. To paraphrase what Jesus Christ once said, anyone can reciprocate love. If you want to do something truly amazing, love someone who isn’t loving toward you.
At its best, the giving of gifts at Christmas points us to the ultimate gift God gave to the human race: His only Son, sent from glory into squalor to rescue us. The gifts we give each other, whether tangible or not, can never compare. But I think we come closest when we focus on gifts that will never fade, wrinkle or rust.
Rita Dunaway is a constitutional attorney, the author of Restoring America’s Soul: Advancing Timeless Conservative Principles in a Wayward Culture and co-host of the weekly radio program, “Crossroads: Where Faith and Culture Meet.”