For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
It was Christmastime. Our family was in the hustle and bustle of Christmas parties, our church pageant, decorating, and shopping. With four kids ranging in age from five to fifteen, there was the normal busyness too: school, lessons, friends, etc. With all that and elderly grandparents depending on us to take them to doctor appointments that year, my mom calendar was overloaded.
In the heat of the season, my 5-year-old came to me with a request.
“Mommy, can you take me to buy presents for everyone?” he asked with gentle, sincere eyes.
“Well Sweetie, do you have any money?” I asked in return.
“Yes ma’am. I’ve saved up my birthday money. I have $20.”
I knew he had at least 5 gifts to buy, so I wasn’t confident he could afford to gift “everyone.” But he was determined. So we planned to go later that evening.
After supper we made the trek to our neighborhood Kmart store. As we were walking in, he started listing all the people he wanted to buy for. Besides his dad, siblings and me, he also listed his three grandparents! In my head I was trying to divide $20 by 8, and quickly realized he was going to have about $2.00 per gift to spend to allow for tax and everything. So I began spewing my doubt.
“Now you don’t have much money. You may not be able to buy for everyone on your list. Do you want to just get dad and your brother and sisters something?”
“No. I’ll have enough money. I want to buy them all.”
So in we went. And it was the best Christmas shopping trip ever!
I don’t remember every gift; it’s been twenty years ago. But I vividly remember searching for the first one. He wanted to go to the housewares department. We went up and down several short aisles before he stopped in front of the drinking glasses. He scanned the shelves for a few seconds and then reached and picked up a green, plastic glass. It was hard, clear plastic, fat and squatty, with raised diamond shapes etched all around the outside and a faux glass appearance.
“I’m getting this for Grandmother,” he announced.
“So… Why did pick this for her?”
He replied, “Well it’s pretty, and I think she’ll like it. And with her arthritis she has trouble holding some glasses that are slick and heavy. But this one is light, and it has those ridges on the outside so it won’t slip out of her hand. And it’s short so it won’t get tipped over so easy.”
I was a bit stunned. My 5-year-old son had logically and with compassion, thought through to choose a perfect gift for his grandmommy who had severe rheumatoid arthritis.
“And,” he finished his list of whys, “it only costs $0.50 so it leaves me with money for others.”
As we wandered all over that store, each gift was a repeat of that type scenario. Each was thought through with a focus on each person’s desires or needs and with a keen eye towards price. Silly Putty for a sibling who loved that and had lost theirs, an inexpensive nose and ear hair trimmer for Daddy from the dollar shelf, and on it went. Finally, he had chosen seven wonderful, inexpensive gifts that were just right for each family member.
“You need to go away now,” he then announced.
“Oh! Ok. But I can’t leave you alone,” I reminded him.
He thought a minute, then said, “Will you walk with me and stop where I tell you and not look the direction I’m shopping?”
I accepted his proposal and followed where he led. I let him know how much money he still had (and it wasn’t much), then dutifully turned my back to him. He shopped a minute, then walked past me with his arms and body curled protectively around my gift that he was trying to keep hidden.
We proceeded to the cash register. I let the lady know that he was buying a gift he wanted to keep secret from me. She said she would scan it first and wrap it in tissue and put it in a separate bag. After it was hidden in its bag, I could turn around and help him finish checking out. He proudly paid with his $20 and had just enough. His birthday money had been sacrificed for the family members his 5-year-old heart adored.
As we walked out of the store, I thought I had never seen a child of mine smiling so proudly and with such sheer delight. His giving heart was thrilled. He had come with a mission to give and had accomplished it.
We give gifts at Christmas because God gave us the greatest gift over two thousand years ago. He gave because He loved us. His focus was on our deep need. He purposed to give to make a way for our redemption. His was a Priceless gift that cost Him dearly.
In every aspect, my son’s gift-giving had been a reflection of the heart and motives of Father God!
In this season of gift-giving, may you reflect the Father in your giving. May you give joyfully and freely out of a heart of love. As you bless others, may the pleasure of giving bless you even more than the gifts bless those you buy for. May you remember it’s not the expensiveness of the item given that matters, it is the love and the thoughtfulness from the heart of the one who takes time to choose a gift “just for you.”
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7