“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts. But especially with gifts.”
So ends one of my favorite Christmas movies, The Bishop’s Wife (don’t worry, they’re Episcopalian), starring David Niven as the Bishop, Lorretta Young in the title role, and Cary Grant as Dudley, the angel. But that’s another entry (I’m saving it for later this month).
When people get hung up over something or other at Christmas-time, gift-giving usually comes up somewhere. And it deserves some of that– lost of people overextend their wallets over Christmas, and it comes back to bite them on the third of the month when credit card statements come in. Other people get caught up in the nastiness associated with buying. And personally, I hate shopping. The mall in the city where I live looks like pre-revolutionary France, for one thing, but even if I were at a more democratic shopping center, the act is something to be endured and gotten over with as quickly as possible. And then there’s the ordeal of wrapping the things… the fine line between making them look nice and making it a crime to unwrap the sucker.
But I have to admit, every year it’s worth it when I watch my loved ones open their gifts. And not just at Christmas– birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions…. Maybe it’s my personality, or maybe there’s something in the gesture. I don’t really know, but I think when done in the right frame of mind, without too much craziness on either end (pro or anti), giving gifts can be one of the most rewarding acts a person can commit. Of course that’s not what it’s all about– I know that– at least not the material aspect. What is Christmas, after all, but a gift to humans? Just a thought for your Monday.