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Gift Giving vs. Gift Gluttony

What do you want for Christmas? Or should I ask what you need? Do you really NEED anything?

This evening I heard a radio DJ ask a woman what she did NOT want for Christmas. The woman ranted and raved about how she did not want baking utensils, cookbooks or pajamas.

“Well, what DO you want?” the DJ asked directly.

(Long pause.)

“Well…” the woman trailed off.

“And that’s why you get cooking utensils!” the DJ laughed and segued into “Jingle Bells.”

My mind wandered to a scene from The Grinch. After years of digging through the Whos’ trash, the Grinch informed the oblivious Christmasaholics that all of their gifts eventually ended up in the city dump– worthless, unwanted, and most importantly: unneeded.

I realize gift-giving can bring a lot of holiday cheer, but maybe we should reevaluate some of our giving. All too often we give in excessive, unnecessary ways. Stores are stocked with stocking stuffers: cheap little gifts from $1-$10 that will fit perfectly inside your mantel sock. But take an extra look at these “great deals.” How long is anyone really going to keep some of this stuff? Or is it just going to get sent up to Mt. Crumpit before New Year’s Eve?

Don’t get me wrong; I love gift giving and receiving, but I think there are much more responsible approaches to this cultural Christmas practice.

It may be too late to make changes for this Christmas, but the Grinch does admit that “one man’s trash is another man’s potpourri.”  So when you get four extra pairs of socks, a Snuggie you plan to never take out of the box, and another sweater that won’t get worn more than the five minutes it takes for Grandma to take a picture, try to find someone who would appreciate these things, or someone who might actually NEED them.

Last thought: and this question takes my mind to extreme and uncomfortable places: how would Jesus celebrate a modern-day Christmas?

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