I am at the “Making Things Even” stage of Christmas. It is a family tradition.
When I was a kid, my mother sent me to retrieve something from her wallet, and I discovered a scrap of paper with a handwritten list of Christmas gifts and what they cost. She was making a list and checking it twice, making sure there’d be no strife.
Was such attention to equitable distribution necessary? Probably not in our minds, but it was in hers.
Now, here I sit before an open computer file analyzing spending. If only my mother had known about Excel. The tallies between families are within equitable margins. My long-range goal is balanced giving and a proportionate spread of good cheer. When did Christmas become the language of brokers and investors?
A lot of tweaking is happening. As a result, Amazon has worn a path to our front door, FedEx sends texts about deliveries and Kohl’s dings my cell letting me know a pickup order is waiting.
Yet there are still gaps, and I rack my brain. What to give? What to give?
It has been said we give gifts we’d like to receive. Better judgment tells me infused olive oil and vinegars will not excite our son or our sons-in-law. Why can’t I channel my inner outdoorsman, distance runner or power tool expert?
What to give? What to give?
The interests of the grands span a wide arc from dolls and art to robotics, books, Nerf Blasters and geology. There is no one-size-fits all. So the hard work of thinking what to give continues.
Then it comes to me. Scotch Tape! I said we try to be equitable; I didn’t say we were lavish. They love tape. They’re always asking for tape. I don’t even ask why any longer, I just peel it off the windows and doors and kitchen table and chairs after they leave.
People keep asking, “Are you ready for the holidays?” In large part, they are asking if all the shopping is finished. Giving adds wonder and excitement to the season, but no matter how hard we rack our brains for that something special for that special someone, the most eye-popping, jaw-dropping gift has already been given — the babe in a manger.
Talk about lavish. Who among us would give up a child for the good of others?
It was the most astounding gift with a most humble delivery. There was no panel truck arriving, no cell phone alert, just a young peasant girl, far from home, in a strange place, on a bed of straw. The anguish of labor, the exhaustion of delivery, the first cry of new life and that new babe now breathing on his own.
Surely there were a few moments of stillness, a span of sacred quiet in which they absorbed the mystery and the miracle. Then it began. The celestial explosion, stars blazing, angels proclaiming, shepherds arriving.
Whoever said it is better to give than to receive surely wasn’t talking about Christmas. The driving question during this season isn’t truly, “What do we give?” but “What do we receive?”
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.