We all love them don’t we! I remember the best ever Christmas present I received, a bicycle – gold and red waiting at the bottom of the stairs by the front door – I rode it for many happy miles.
We give and receive our gifts at Christmas, but in other countries it is very different. In Holland and Spain presents come before Christmas with festivities about the visit of the Wise Men – the gift bearers in the Nativity of Jesus (although we usually celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men in January).
In other countries, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine for example, gifts are given on the feast of St Nicholas; 5th and 6th of December. In most countries keeping to Christian Orthodox traditions all the dates of the season are later than for us; for example Christmas is in January!
It seems a bit higgledy piggledy! It clearly doesn’t matter when the gifts of this season are given for they are symbols for us. Symbols of our personal feelings for the folks we give a gift to; as an expression of love or thankfulness maybe. Of course, the real symbolism is as a reminder for us of God’s gift in love of Jesus to the world – the living, breathing embodiment of that love and concern for the world and for how people can live together, peaceably.
The Nativity gifts include gold, perfume and spices; precious gifts in that age. The money making giants of the world today would love us all to indebt ourselves to them in buying gold, perfume and expensive spices. I wonder how things might be if we gave a little less from the shops and more of ourselves; as Jesus himself gave of himself.
After all we want to give our loved ones the best we can and that best is often ourselves!
Have a happy time together this Christmas!