Every year at Christmas, so many people run into stress when the thought of exchanging gifts comes to mind. For some people, it’s the “mental scorecard” problem, where they keep track of the number of hours and dollars spent, as if putting a figure on their effort is a way of measuring how much they are showing their love. So if the gift isn’t liked or the gift they get in return isn’t of equal or greater value (according to their own valuation), then, well, there’s all sorts of anger that gets repressed, only to be brought up later. Often children get caught up in this, mentally tallying what they receive, and in dollars and number of presents and cubic inches of the boxes try to determine how much they’re loved versus their siblings.
And even if we ourselves don’t get caught up in such materialistic nonsense, everyone has that certain someone in their lives that is difficult and at times impossible for shop for. Usually, it’s our parents. Realistically, what can you get the people who have just about everything, and have given us just about everything? Moms have every kitchen gadget they want and more jewelry than they wear. Dads have seemingly every tool and three closets full of ties. Yet we still try to find them the perfect gift, don’t we? We go to great lengths because, well, they’re our parents. We love them. And we want them to know that we love them, even if what we give them can never, ever measure up to what they’ve given us.
Yet in the end, we surround ourselves with just… stuff. Stuff that other people spent time and money giving, or that we spend time and money working to get. When we walk around and go through all the drawers and closets and nooks and crannies, how much of what clutters our lives can easily be bagged up and hauled to the trash, and never missed? And much physical clutter causes us to clutter our mind? Sure, each of us has mementos that are meaningful in their own way. But what is more valuable: the memento, or the memory attached to it?
The things of true and lasting value, the things that are priceless, cannot be boxed, wrapped, measured or counted. Yet we still feel a need to find perfect gifts for the ones we love most, don’t we? We want them to know how much they mean to us. So we put in the time and the effort and the money, even though a concert ticket from twenty years ago, tucked in a shoebox, might mean more to someone than the latest cell phone that will be replaced in 18 months with a new model. Truly, the most lavish of gifts are the ones that have more meaning than can be expressed with mere numbers.
How rich, then, are we that we have been given the gift of life? How wealthy can we be considered when we recall the virtues that God infused in us at our Baptism? How well off are we thanks to the graces God gives us every day? And indeed, how much has God showed His love for us by giving us the priceless gift of His Son Jesus?
And what gift can we give God in return? Oh sure, we can give Him our time, talent, and treasure. But those can be measured and counted. Are any of those things #1 on His gift list? We certainly can never measure up to what He has given us, or write a check big enough to pay for everything He has done for us. What is the perfect gift for God, who has literally everything because He made, literally, everything?
The most perfect gift for our most perfect Eternal Father, is, of course, our love. Our love for God — shown by our obedience, faith, gratitude, trust, and hope — is the only thing we can give God that He truly wants. Our love for God is the only gift that has everlasting value to Him. So as we prepare our hearts to receive His most precious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, let us prepare to give Him our hearts in return. As cattle and wise men did once with bowed heads and bended knee, let us perpetually make a gift of our hearts. This Christmas and always, let us adore Him, God our Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.