I have put off Christmas for as long as I can. I only have ten days to figure out what I want to give and do. I wish this holiday came easy for me, but I do not even know where to begin. Gift giving is agonizing for me. I put too much emphasis on materialistic items to express how I feel about someone. Every year I fight the urge go buy my way into people’s hearts.
Christmas was important to my family while I was growing up. We would wake up to mountains of gifts and hours of unwrapping. It was the one day of the year that we would come together as a family. We were at war with each other for most of the year and on Christmas we would lavish each other with gifts, as if to make up for the mistakes we made. It was love made visible.
In regards to Christmas, my husband and I come from different worlds and we speak different languages. He thinks Christmas is one practical gift and I want to buy everything. Christ was the center of his Christmas and giving was the center of mine. Every year I try to find the right gift to express my love and every year he is unimpressed. I look at the small mound of gifts under the tree and I get this sinking feeling I am failing to show my family my love.
I know I am putting a price tag on something that is invaluable. I need to make my love visible and conditional. I want to join the hoards of people who go overboard with gifts and decorating. I want to make it a grand celebration and give thousands of presents. I want to do that because the real love is so hard to give. I guard my bruised heart so deep within that I would prefer buying a trinket instead of risking my heart to exposure. I would rather wrap up nonsense instead of unwrapping my heart and giving it freely. My fake self wants to please them with superficial things instead of sharing the closeness of the real me. What if they don’t like the real me? What if I am not worthy of their love?
There is a phrase that keeps popping up in my life. My pastor said it to me on the day I was baptized. “True love is the absence of fear”. That was over seven years ago and I have never forgotten it. Now this phrase keeps showing up in classes and quotes and I always shrug it off. It makes no sense to me. What does love and fear have to do with each other? And then I realize that I give gifts out of fear. I have attached strings to something that should be given freely. I have to prove myself worthy of love and I have to do this by pleasing the person. This is a sign of worship, is it not? I am like the pagans who laid gifts at the feet of their idols in hopes of pleasing the gods for good weather, fruitful crops and good health. They tried to bribe the gods to please them. I am trying to please my idols so they can give me the one thing I so desperately need, which is their love.
Lord, I have twisted things around and made Christmas about me and I am teaching my children to be just as selfish. But before I have that berating conversation with myself, I can feel his love as if he gave me a gentle squeeze and his words whisper, “Now you know”. This is re-enforced when I read a post from a creative blogger that follow, LivelyTwist, where she quotes “To learn is to first admit you don’t know”. I don’t know how to love without fear, but admitting it is the first step.
I want to give these people I love something that shows what they mean to me. Maybe it is these words that I am writing and the words I whisper to the wind for the one who is not with us. Revealing myself on the page confessing a love that knows no bounds. The gift of love, like the love of the one whose birthday we are celebrating. It’s a step in the right direction.