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A gift or a present?

Children anxiously await the day that Santa Claus comes and brings lots of presents. During the month leading up to Christmas Day, many packages will appear under the tree. It is typical for a child to count all the gifts with his/her name on them. When there are 2 or more children in one household, parents generally are aware how important it is for each child to have the same number of presents under the tree before Christmas. Believe me, I was a child once, and although it was many, many years ago, I remember this concept well.

On Christmas Day, after Santa has left the building, the counting of presents seems less important. Suddenly, it is the quality (or the size) of the present that matters, and not the quantity. The excitement of seeing what Santa Claus brought takes over the rivalry of comparisons.

Once the excitement of the unwrapped presents (Santa’s droppings) has passed, then it is time to unwrap the other ones under the tree. A new anticipation begins. Packages are doled out to recipients, and when a child receives one, the wrapping paper is ripped off, box opened, and it is time for another unwrapping. It may matter little what is inside. The excitement turns from the eagerness about “what’s inside” to “where’s the next one to open?”

Does this all sound familiar? Children’s excitement is about the hope of what is coming their way. December is all about anticipation, as they look forward to the days when they can see Santa Claus at functions, or in stores, and know that (if they are good) he will bring them surprises on Christmas Day.

As adults, we love to see the children be excited about Christmas. The innocence of the child is not only refreshing, but it is also enviable.

I have recently pondered about the words “presents” and “gifts,” and it seems that these two words are almost interchangeable. However, the more I think about them, I realize that they are very different indeed. The word “present” means “now,” and so what I may unwrap on Christmas Day is not a gift, but a present. It is something that pleases me for now. It may be a sweater that I like, and I may wear that sweater many times, but the excitement of having that new sweater will not last. Soon it will be an old sweater. Over time, I may even forget where I got the sweater.

Some “presents” may have more lasting meaning than others. If the package is given with love or sacrifice, or is handmade, or something given that has a particularly deep meaning to the giver, then it is a gift and not a present.

There are several other kinds of gifts. You may have a musical gift, in which you can play the piano or other musical instrument. A talent is a gift, and we all have different talents that God has enabled us to have. Not one person on earth has the same package of gifts as others. We are all made with different looks and personalities and abilities. Frustration sets in as we try to be like others because we think we should all have the same gifts.

The real meaning of Christmas is about a gift we are all given, and that is a Joy to the World.

It began one Silent Night, Away in a Manger with no crib for a bed, in O Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Angels we have Heard on High. Do You Hear What I Hear? Go Tell it on the Mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.

This, my dear friends, is a true gift. He came that we may have life. He came that we may have love in our hearts, and that we may share that love with others. The gifts keep on coming each day.

Enjoy the presents of the Christmas season, and remember to share with others what you receive. Sharing then becomes a gift.

Merry Christmas, and enjoy the blessings of both presents and gifts.

— My love to all,


• • •

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

— I Corinthians 13:11,13



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