Posts Tagged: Christmas


28
Dec 12

Holiday Limbo

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Yes, I know… I am five days late with this blog.  I’m not exactly sure what happened.

The last clear thing I remember is that it was Christmas Eve and I was casually sipping on some eggnog and all of a sudden things seemed to kick into hyperspace speed.

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Nothing says holidays, like a cheese log.

- Ellen DeGeneres

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Since then it has been a cacophony of events.  All I can recall are a few memory snippets of wrapping tearing, people smiling, dogs playing, loads of cooking, everyone eating, wafts of candles burning, lots of cleaning, quick packing, snow flying and frenzied driving.  Whew!

All of a sudden it’s December 28th and somehow I ended up in Atlanta sipping on some coffee.  I finally came to my senses… well… that’s debatable according to my wife.

So here I am, caught in what I call Holiday limbo.  It’s the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day when everything seems weird.

It feels like you are between worlds and any sense of normalcy has evaporated.

It’s kinda nice and you start to feel good then all of a sudden there is a sense that I should be doing something productive.  You’re not exactly on vacation (that’s a different head-set) but you’re not in work mode either.

So typing this blog is kind of a Godsend.  It makes things feel a bit more normal even though I am not in my cozy home where I can dress as I want and behave as I wish (scratch, spit, belch, etc. at will – the guys know what I’m talking about… you know the feeling).

But regardless of the weirdness of holidays – especially the Holiday Limbo time, I wouldn’t want to change it.

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I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.

- Henny Youngman

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We need disruptions to our routine.  Seriously.

We (self included) work hard at trying to create some measure of routine and predictability in our lives.  I think this is important.

A measure of routine provides some stability and sanity to a fast paced world.

But believe it or not disruptions are important too.

If not careful routine becomes a subtle web that builds over time and if not periodically torn they will eventually choke the very life out of you.

You create a cocoon that is very comfortable and protective, but it keeps you from growing.

Discomfort forces the action and movement needed to keep from choking to death.
Now some of you are on the other end of the continuum.  You are chaos junkies.  You cringe at anything routine.

But unfortunately, whatever extreme you may be on the continuum (rigid routine or crazy chaos) you reap the consequence of your excess.

I think I’m pretty balanced.  I really like my routine but I appreciate the value of disruption.

So this year’s Holiday Limbo has definitely disrupted my routine.

Ok, my web is broken for the time being… now let’s get back to the routine that feels comfortable and work hard to maintain.

See you Monday… New Year’s Eve.

Ciao


20
Dec 12

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

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The title is a weird saying huh?  And the picture is ugly too.

I love these old axioms, but it seems their popularity has waned over the past few years.

Unfortunately they seem to have been snatched out of existence like a chicken leg on a Golden Corral buffet.  Gone… one minute it’s there and the next minute… whoosh… never to be seen again.

The wonderful thing about these old axioms is that although the verbiage is a bit dated the core truth remains sound.  That’s the beautiful thing about Truth… it never changes.  Regardless of the wording, the truth is still the truth.

And this is the time of year that elevates the magnificence of Truth even more.

Fair warning – GOD ALERT!!!!

Now for all of my non-Christian friends you don’t have to worry.  You know by now that I don’t get all preachy on you and expect you to believe what I believe.

Hopefully it will make you think but regardless of where you land spiritually you can still get a lot out of my meanderings.

The entire Christmas thing is that God came to dwell among us human types.  Some of you may be wondering what’s the big deal.

Believe it or not, it is a big deal… a very BIG DEAL.

God decided to go slumming with his peeps.  Let me be clear, gods do NOT do that sort of thing.

Christianity is the only religion on earth where the god being served comes down on our level to have relationship with man.  In all other religions man has to work their way up to become like the god being served.

If a person does enough good things and goes through certain rituals they eventually progress into some sort of deity.

The weirdest thing is that the nation of Israel had been expecting the Messiah to come for generations.

But here’s the other key to the story… He came… but not the way they expected.

If there is a pattern with God is that He doesn’t come in ways we anticipate.  That’s why so many of us miss His moving around us because He doesn’t come in a way we expect the God of the Universe to come.

If He came in a way we expected then He would not be God… because He would be within our grasp.  God is not within our grasp of intellect.

Any Spiritual insight always requires a step of faith.  A step beyond where we are and believe that God is at work.

If we are willing to crack that door our life will never be the same.

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You may be wondering why the weird axiom about the gift horse as the title of this blog.  God offers a free gift… yet we have difficulty just accepting it.

We want to examine, test, or evaluate the worthiness of the gift.

This time of the year is the time of gift giving.

But a gift is never possessed if we don’t receive.

Ciao.


14
Dec 12

Listen or Discard?

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Ho Ho Ho!

Yep… the smell of the scented candles, sounds of carols and the zip from Egg Nog is starting to take effect.

I feel the joy of Christmas beginning to rumble deep inside.  Or, it could be just the remnants of the questionable fish sandwich I had for lunch.  But something is beginning to rumble and I’m getting into the moment.

Without getting all mushy and Hallmark Cardish there is something very, very special about this time of year.

Sure, you have your occasional curmudgeon (or Grinch) who dislikes anything that makes other people feel good or happy.

It’s kind of weird.  If they’re not happy they don’t want others to be happy.  But of course they don’t come right out and say that.  They put a damper on everyone’s joy by spouting their unhappiness veiled by some very philosophical or insightful proclamation.

The biggest philosophical proclamation that becomes an emotional wet blanket is the verbal barrage that Christmas is too commercial.

Is Christmas too commercial?  Absolutely.  No question about it.  But the gross over commercialization of Christmas doesn’t stop me from enjoying the Holidays.  I still know what Christmas is all about.

If you’re really upset Christmas is over commercialized… keep it too yourself.

Yep, keep it to yourself.  Why, you ask.

NO ONE IS LISTENING TO YOU!

Usually when people are pontificating (emotionally spouting off) they come across self-righteous, judgmental and pompous.  That alone turns people off.

But there is another reason why people will not listen to your message.

It amazes me that people feel they are going to change the commercialism of Christmas by harping on the negative.  If you want to influence a person’s belief system you don’t hammer on the things that are wrong or in error.

This approach just makes people take a stronger stand on their point of view and makes it easy to discard your opinion like flicking a speck of dust off their shoulder.

If you really want people to hear your message… focus on the positive.

For example, if over commercialism of Christmas is an issue for you; the power is in sharing the joy of simplicity vs. the evil of excess.

Yes, I enjoy the lights, gifts, energy and happenings around the Holidays, but I also the simple joy of the spirit of giving, sharing and love.

There’s no question the glitz can be distracting… but the simple joy in the hearts and eyes of the young (this is not an age thing) is glorious.

Relax… enjoy the simplicity of the season.

Ciao.


11
Dec 12

More Christmas Frivolity

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Welcome, great to have you hang out with me for a while.

Since it is the Christmas season I have been talking about what types of gifts men or women like.  So I will continue to unwrap the topic a bit more.

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Side Note: “…unwrap the topic…”

Yes, I know, that was really bad.  I couldn’t resist the easy layup of a pun.  And yes, I realize that puns of this nature do not reflect well on my intellectual prowess.  But it is what it is.

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The fact that men and women are different is not new news to anyone.  But the fact that we are so different is something for which I am very, very thankful.

In the last entry I mentioned that all you need to get for a guy is something that makes noise, a tool of any kind to take something apart (putting it back together is optional), a toy or some sort of electronic gadget.

Yes, women are different.  The fairer gender tends to like things that fall into one of four categories.  As I started to list them I found that they all started with the letter “S”.

Girls like things that are – Soft, Sentimental, Smell good, or Shiny.  I could throw in another “S” that girls like.  No, not Sexy, even though it is a good guess and it’s something that is both a guy and girl thing.

The other “S” I was thinking about is Silliness.  Now let me explain.  There is “goofiness”, which no girl likes.  And there is cute silliness, which girls tend to like, especially if it involves a cute guy.

I ran across a video that will perfectly illustrate my point.

As a guy I could relate to doing something like this… but would never attempt.  I wouldn’t try it because 1.)  I’m not a cute enough guy; 2.) I can’t dance; 3.) Cute is hard to pull off when you’re over 30.

Girls… enjoy the video.  Guys, it’s ok for you to watch too.  It’s a good idea to consider if you’re under the age of 30.  Make sure you get to the dancing part.

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One of the comments below the video had a very good description of this little escapade.  They mentioned that it was so cool and uncool at the same time.

I have never been able to pull off something that is cool and uncool at the same time.  I have mastered uncool pretty well but I’m still working on the cool part.

Regardless of what you thought about the video whether it was cute silliness or just plain stupid goofiness, the guys were having fun.

FUN!!!  Innocent fun.

Regardless of age, cuteness, or ability to dance, fun is for everyone.
You may find this hard to believe, but God created fun.  What really throws some people is the notion that God is really fun.

Most people see Him as a crotchety old geezer that has no sense of humor.  Boy, are they ever wrong.

I think after Christmas I will need to dig into the funny God thing… because He really is funny… not goofy… funny.

Yes, I even believe that God can pull off the cute silliness thing… even though He is over 30 and probably can’t dance.

Ciao


4
Dec 12

Stress of gifts!

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Hi, good to see you again.

It’s early December and I can already feel the intensity of the season beginning to crescendo.

It’s the same kind of intensity one feels when standing between a group of seniors and the Golden Corral buffet – you see the object closing in but helpless to get out of the way.  It’s not a pretty sight.

Christmas is coming at full steam and there’s nothing you can do except brace yourself  for the impact.

I, like most of you, have started feeling the stress of what to get for gifts for the people in my life.  Personally, I think women are harder to buy for than men.

Men are easy (in more ways than one).  The only type of present you need for a guy is to get him something that makes noise, a tool of any kind to take something apart (putting it back together is optional), a toy or some sort of electronic gadget.

As you can see, we men are easy to tend to for the most part.

But women are a bit more complex.  Selecting a present for the fairer sex requires more thought and consideration than for us guys.

Women are just made differently… not bad… just different.

That’s the problem.  Guys think that everyone should think and see things the way they do.  That’s why we end up buying you wonderful women stupid stuff.

So I have decided to incorporate things into the blog this December that appeals to women… I may throw in a man thing or two but primarily it’s for women.

The first thing that I found that women like (other than jewelry) is anything that has something cute and cuddly gets their attention.

There are few things more cute and cuddly than puppies.

So the video below will give all of you that smiley, happy attitude that only comes from something cute.

Enjoy the video about the Christmas puppies.

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How cute is that?  Yep… a puppy video like the one above will make any girl happy.

I thought the puppy thing would be enough but I ran across a cat video that the girls would enjoy too.

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Okay guys, I know cats are not generally the type of animal that you enjoy.  But the ladies like it.

Visit me in a couple of days and I will try to find something that will appeal to both the guys and girls.

Ciao.


26
Dec 11

Happy Sigh or Sad Good-Bye

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Happy day after Christmas.  I guess it’s happy.

For some people the day after Christmas is a very sad good-bye.  It means the excitement has peaked and the mundane of everyday life is on the horizon.

For months the momentum and excitement builds and then crescendos in one grand crash of cymbals on Christmas day with gift wrapping flying, people laughing with oohs” and ”aahs” abounding.

Stuff memories are made of.

While some are having a sad good-bye to the Yule Tide peak there are others who are slap happy that it’s all over.

You can almost hear their internal voice screaming from the mountains tops, “Thank God it’s over and good riddance.”

The months leading up to the big day have been grueling or barely tolerable at best.  Now they are setting back the day after Christmas with coffee in hand releasing a very happy sigh.

Some of you can probably relate to this poem I ran across.

One Day After Christmas

It’s Christmas time at my house, the relatives are here.

They eat me out of house and home, and drink up all my beer.

I love the decorations, and the sleigh bells in the snow,

But I wish those pesky relatives would take their kids and go.

The cookie crunchers are in a free-for-all, the girls against the boys,

They’re fighting over boxes ‘cause they’re bored with all their toys.

My mother-in-law is snoring in my favorite TV chair,

Those kids are stringing lights on her and tenseling her hair.

I oughta wake her up before the fireworks begin,

But I wanna see those blue sparks fly when they plug her in.

-       Author Unknown

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Granted, this poem is no literary masterpiece…. But it makes a point.

My guess is most of you are where I am… kinda in the middle.

I had a wonderful Christmas but I have to admit that I caught myself giving a substantial “Whew” this morning while relaxing.

So, I sit in the living room rather content next to the forlorn Christmas tree.  The tree is looking very inadequate and purposeless this morning without any gifts under the boughs.

But at least I have the lights on.  It looks somewhat happy.  There are few things sadder to me than a Christmas tree after the big day with the lights off.

Now that Christmas is in the rearview mirror I have a suggestion that will make the world a much better place… well… for me anyway.

Please, please, please – if you have outdoor decorations – either take them down immediately or keep them lit.

This is especially true with the inflatable decorations.  There are few things more disturbing than limp Santas, reindeer or snowmen lying in a disfigured heap on the lawn.

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If you are an inflatable kind of person (Christmas inflatable not kinky inflatable), keep them blown up looking happy and useful or put them out of our misery and pack them away till next year.

Well, regardless of how you’re feeling today, happy or sad… or both, at least keep the Christmas tree and decorations happy by keeping them lit or putting them up.

I have one more blog entry for 2011.  Hopefully it will be a bit more insightful than todays meanderings.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.


22
Dec 11

Filling in the Blanks

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Hi, good to have you hang out with me for a while.

In the last blog entry I messed with your head a bit when I titled the blog “Christmas is H _ _ _ !”.

I talked about the natural tendency to fill in the blanks (or any information gap) with things that tend to be negative.

I promised to fill in the blanks… and I will… but let me set the stage first.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I tend to be a pretty positive person.  But it seems to be more of a challenge these days.

It feels like the world is getting increasingly weirder, angrier and polarized.  Have you noticed?

I have never seen so much anger, distrust, cynicism, threats, and fighting… and that’s just getting out of the church parking lot.  Just kidding, just kidding, but you get my point.

You have to admit, the world does seem to be pulling apart more so than pulling together.

There seems to be no middle ground on anything anymore, only polarized positions with each side entrenched in their respective opinions.

The opening paragraph of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities seems pretty relevant.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens,
English novelist (1812 – 1870)

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On the surface the world seems pretty hopeless.  But it’s not.  Not at all.

By now you may have guessed what the “H” word is from the title of the last blog… HOPE!

Christmas is HOPE!

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The possibility of hope scares a lot of people.  I found a very interesting quote.

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Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Wow.  That only comes from someone who has no hope.  Sad… so sad.

We have to be honest.  For many people living in a troubled world, Hope does seem a bit illusive.

But you have to have Hope to survive.  Take a look at this great clip from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

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Hope is real.  The reality of Hope came into the world nearly 2000 years ago.

Light was provided for a dark world.

Side Note: To my non-Christian friends don’t get all weirded out because I will be talking about Jesus.

As always, I am not trying to get you to believe what I believe.  That is something you work out personally with God.  I am just sharing how the reality of Hope impacts me.

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Now to some of my non-Christian friends you may think I am trying to promote my religion.  Not at all.

Religion in itself cannot provide Hope … it never will.  In fact, religion has added to the negativity and polarization the world is experiencing.

But Hope comes from the reality that Christmas celebrates… a savior was born… a Universe rejoiced… darkness pierced.

Merry Christmas!


27
Dec 10

A Time to Rest

Howdy. 

Well, I made it.  I eventually found the computer nestled down in all the Christmas wrapping, boxes and gifts.  What made this seemingly simple task more difficult is that I am slowly emerging from my sugar stupor.

I see that you survived Christmas also… I’m glad you made it.

I have two exciting things going on today. 

First, this is my one hundredth blog entry this year.  Now this may not seem like a big thing to you but I’m pretty psyched.  Wow, one hundred.

For me that’s a lot of writing.  Just so you know, I realize that all this writing doesn’t necessarily mean I have much to say.  Those of you who are regular readers probably know that by now.

Side Note:  I will poke at the significance of writing at the first anniversary of launching my blog in January. 

 

The second point of excitement is gearing up for the New Year.  Christmas has faded and the New Year is rumbling toward us. 

I don’t know if this happens to you but something strange occurs to me on December 26th.  It’s as though someone flips a switch in my head and Christmas is over.  All of a sudden the beautiful decorations seem a bit weary, the thousands of twinkly lights feel obtrusive and the Christmas tree looks out of place.

There is no doubt that there are some reading this blog who are super sad to see Christmas go and others are overly ecstatic that it’s over.  For me, I am somewhere in the middle.  Not sad or ecstatic but just ready to move on. 

The week between Christmas and New Year is like an emotional decompression period that prepares us for the new year.

We spend months slowly picking up speed as we move toward the holidays.  It is an interesting progression of a snail’s pace start that builds to a frenzied finish. 

Here’s how I see it unfolding.  Summer is over, school has started, fall is poking its head around the corner and then it begins.  It’s as though Labor Day is like the announcement at a NASCAR race, “Gentlemen… start your engines.” 

The engines are started and things are set in motion.  We slowly begin to rumble along and then Halloween begins to suck us into the turbine engine of the holidays. 

No sooner do the kids come down from the sugar high of their sacks of candy and Thanksgiving starts looming on the horizon.  Whereas Halloween is usually focused on the immediate family, the increased speed now invades to the extended family. 

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday.  It is the fueling station before the start of the race.  “Black Friday” has become the “green flag” for frenzy.  The frantic race is underway, and it crescendos at Christmas. 

Side Note:  How’s that for mixing metaphors… I start with a race and end with a musical note.

 Hey, I never said I was a good writer.  But you have to admit it does keep you on your toes.

So the week between Christmas and New Year is the gift of decompression.  This is a time to allow our heads to stop spinning and to get our bearings (nautical metaphor thrown in for good measure).

So I turn my eyes toward New Year’s Eve and Day.  At this point my wife and I have no plans.  We will find something fun to kick-off the year.

But there is one more thing pressing me.  I have one more blog entry this year.  So I am already trying to wrap my mind around what will be a good capstone for the year.

Have a relaxing week as you unwind.  See you Thursday.


23
Dec 10

Oh My, What a Story!

Hello again.

Just so you know, this blog is not being written from the waiting area of the Cleveland Clinic… all’s good.  (Read the last blog and you will know what I am talking about.)

Now that life stuff is tucked back into the “somewhat normal” category I can focus on the topic at hand, Christmas.

Wow, the day before Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow is a big day.   Lot’s of kids, myself included, are excited about Santa coming.

You can’t beat family, food, presents, and celebration… good stuff.  And to top it off, to those of us who are Christians, is experiencing the joy of the Spiritual significance this time of the year brings.

God Alert: Hello non-Christian friends.  I am going to share a couple of creative things that talk about why this day is particularly special to me… yes you guessed it… Jesus stuff.

Now don’t go grabbing your mouse to click to another screen.  I encourage you to hang out and enjoy the video and story telling.   They are worth the time from just a creative standpoint.

As always I am not asking you to believe as I, nor am I judging.  I just think it is so cool that you are willing to hang out with me even though we believe differently.  It says a lot about you.

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As I think about Christmas and what it means to me I am began looking for interesting quirky things to share.  I’m odd in that way… maybe because I tend to be a bit quirky.

Side Note: Quirky is just a nicer and more trendy way of saying eccentric.

I am excited… I found two really cool versions of the Christmas story.  Both are very creative but remarkably different.  One is very contemporary and the other very ancient.

The first approaches the events of Christ’s birth as if it occurred today and Mary and Joseph were using the computer and social media to communicate.  A friend sent me this video.  Enjoy!

Story One:

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Clever and creative huh?

The second video approaches this ancient tale from the most historical form of communication… story telling.  This is a video narrative by one of the best story tellers of the past century, Paul Harvey.  He is now deceased but his stories live on.

Reminder to the younger crowd: Give story telling a chance.  It is not as visually stimulating but I think you will find the creativity of a good story teller more than makes up for any lack of flash and hype.

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Story Two:

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What’s interesting to me is that although the applications are very different the ancient message remains clear.  God comes down to us, on our level, how amazing is that?

So in all the wrap, ribbon, food, wine, whines, cries, and laughter… allow the Joy of the reality of God with us engulf you.

See you Monday, if I can dig my way through the trash to find the computer.


16
Dec 10

The Gift Exchange

Yep, me again prattling away about life.

Since its Christmas and we have been talking about gifts I thought I would share a couple of insights about gifts that may cause you to think about them a bit differently.

Now don’t get mad at me, but I have to take the joyous experience of gift giving and break it down making it more impersonal and academic in nature.

Gift giving requires several components before the perfect gift exchange is attained.

Side Note: What may help is for you to think about a gift you received that meant a lot to you.  Compare your experience to the components below to see if I am tracking with your experience.

Component One: The Giver

This sounds pretty simplistic but there always needs to be a giver.  But the ideal exchange demands more than just a person willing to part with something.  The X factor to the perfect gift is motivation… the why.

Let’s be real, many gifts are given out of obligation (I have to do it) or manipulation (If I do it there is something to gain).  I am sure most of us have been given something and wondered about the motive.

I am not trying to get all mushy here but the reality is the ideal gift comes from the heart not just the head.  There is a message that conveys worth or value.  There is no ulterior motive other than pleasing the person for whom the gift was for.

The giver must give with no ulterior motive or strings attached and then… release… let go.

Component Two: The Gift

This is the item of exchange.  Frankly, there are all kinds of gifts.  Usually we think in terms of a wrapped package that is grasped.  But there are gifts that are tangible in nature and some intangible.

My parents did not have much but they gave us kids’ some pretty cool gifts.  The tangible gifts were great but I remember very few.  The real gifts (in hindsight) were intangible in nature.  Even though we didn’t have much we knew we were loved… the beautiful gift of being loved.  This may sound weird but I can say now that being disciplined was a gift.

Component Three: The Cost

Every meaningful gift has a cost.  Now before you start arguing, think about it.  Cost is not just financial… that is just the money exchanged.

The cost may be something much more precious than just money.  The price of something may be in the form of sacrifice, time, effort, thoughtfulness, etc.

If you reflect I am sure you will agree that some of the most precious gifts you receive had very little to do with the money something cost.

Component Four: The Receiver

This is a biggie.  No gift exchange is complete until one receives.

This may sound like I am splitting verbal hairs but there is a difference between accepting a gift and receiving a gift.

Accepting a gift is the physical reception of the gift (or in the case of something intangible, an acknowledgement).  But receiving is on a much deeper level.  It involves the fullest appreciation of the gift and understanding of the value.

Now I am not trying to overly complicate this gift giving thing.  When a person buys you a gift for Christmas you will accept it physically and you will show your reception of it by expressing you appreciation and gratitude.  This is fairly straightforward.

But I am taking the time to differentiate accepting and receiving of those gifts that may have a greater emotional meaning to the giver.

Allow me to share an example.  My grandparents (my mother’s side) were amazing people.  They didn’t have much to give.  I remember as they were getting late in their years my grandfather pulled me aside and gave me a few mementoes of he and my grandmother.

There was a scarf he gave my grandmother when they were dating, he gave me his company pin marking years of service and other personal odd and ends.  They were worthless on one level and priceless on another.

I was honored.  He knew I would do more than accept them.  I appreciated the items… I receive them.  I in other words, I took the items with the same heart they were given.

You see, the way you receive the gift is in essence a gift in return.

There is no question there will be many gifts exchanged this Christmas that will be very transactional in nature.  This is normal.  But the most blessed gifts that are given and received on a heart level.

See you Monday