We went down the mountain at the crack of dawn,and I have to say, the shops were deserted. We hypothesised that here, no-one needs to shop at sales. They can afford to pay full price. Or that they are all really well prepared. We, on the other hand, are inveterate bargain hunters, but the centre we went to had nothing exciting to tempt us.
So home we came to finish the wrapping and to parcel up the biscuits and mince pies we are giving to our friends. I mentioned sharing in the comments yesterday.....
For as long as I can remember, I have loved tho idea of giving a packet of biscuits and/or a home-made decoration to everyone. Sharing. And I can't tell you how thrilled I am when I get a bottle of jam, or marmalade, or cake or biscuits from my friends. These are the best kind of gifts.
Yes, I know I have talked about it before, but helping Marge wrap the things she has made so beautifully, and looking at all the work involved, and the cellophane, the ribbons, and the love and care taken, I felt the need to reiterate what I had said.
The most costly gifts in financial terms pale next to these beautiful gifts, in my mind. And I am thinking of my lovely friend Jean, who has learned to do patchwork specifically so that she could make memory quilts for her sons, out of their father's shirts. She did mean to learn. It was on the list, but when I suggested she keep some shirts and why when he died suddenly, she sped up the learning process. And I have to say, she has done the most amazing work, and I am absolutely confident that when she gives them to her boys on Christmas morning (4 squares to go, Jean.... a doddle!) they will wrap themselves in the love and warmth of their very special gifts, and the other things under the tree will pale into insignificance.
I read a comment on Facebook saying that one family gave their children 3 presents and a small stocking. Three, because Jesus received three gifts. Just three. What a wonderful way to bring up children, without the expectation of a mountain of gifts, and the nightmare of parents dreading the arrival of the credit card bills in January.
Christmas is all about love, after all. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life......" (John 3:16)
A love so great. Not a great avalanche of "things" from Heaven. A baby, who was the Son of God. And what could represent love more than a tiny baby? Think back to the birth of your children....Remember the swelling of love in your heart that you could never have anticipated?
I am willing to guess that you, like all of us, would give up every material thing in your life for your child. The bus barrelling toward him in the road? Not a problem. You would be there. That kind of love. Times countless times.
My nativity set doesn't have any kings. I couldn't afford them at the time. But you know, the nativity scene is perfect without them. Just the simplicity of the stable, with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a shepherd. (And some animals too.). The focus is on the baby.
I really believe that Christmas is all about love. God's amazing love. The love I have for my family. The love for my friends. We need to live fully. To laugh with great joy. To love without holding anything back. Every day of our lives.
We have already opened the greatest gift of all. And now we prepare to celebrate His birthday.