Now that Chanukah has come and gone, and all the nine menorah candles have burnt (note all the leftover wax). It’s time to turn my full attention to the Christmas season.
For most of us, the Christmas season begins with a day we all call Black Friday, when we’re stuffed and lethargic from turkey engorging, and then, we race around the mall before the break of dawn, fighting fellow celebrants to catch the best deals. I can think of better ways to initiate the season dedicated to our Savior’s birth.
As you can probably tell, if you read my Black Friday post, my attitude about Christmas shopping lacks a little of the holiday spirit. Maybe I’ve been too inundated with advertisements this year, or I’m just searching for some more meaning amidst all the rampant commercialism. Whatever the cause, I want to renew my joy and get the proper perspective for the gift giving traditions of Christmas.
The tradition began with the Magi from the east, who visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, guided from afar by a star (Matthew 2:1-12). We don’t know how many magi there were, but we know that they gave the newborn Messiah three symbolically important gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold was a gift of tribute to a King. Priests offered incense, such as frankincense, to God. And myrrh was an embalming ointment. These gifts announced Christ’s kingship, his deity, and his upcoming atoning, sacrificial death.
Here are some lessons I drew from the magi’s example:
1. Don’t be afraid to give extravagantly and generously, especially if it’s for Jesus.
2. Glorify Jesus with your giving
3. Give gifts with significant meaning for the recipient.
As I think through the Magi’s first Christmas gifts, I want to share with you some gift ideas that meet these three criteria. Beginning today, until Christmas, I’d like to submit a new Christmas gift idea for each day, one that allows you to be generous, glorify Jesus, and offer significant meaning for the recipient.
For this first day, I’m drawing my inspiration from O. Henry’s classic tale “The Gift of the Magi” (Click here to read it online). In the story, a married couple gives extravagantly and sacrificially, in ways that glorify Jesus. Their gifts also mean a lot to each other, especially in light of the surprise ending (which I’m not going to spoil for you).
In the story, the wife gives her most precious possession, her hair, so her husband might have a gift that will honor him. A non-profit organization called “Locks of Love” allows you to donate your own hair, in the spirit of this classic Christmas story, to help make wigs for children with cancer (http://locksoflove.org/). You need to donate at least 10 inches of hair, so for most men, this isn’t an option (although I’ve known men to do this before).
I admit that I’ve chopped off 10 inches a couple of times and sent it off to the organization. It’s a great way to give generously (it takes awhile to grow 10 inches of hair!), glorify Jesus, and offer a significant service to seriously ill children.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s gift idea.