Gifts – Want/Need?

Years ago there was a novelty Christmas song “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…” That codified the phrase “all I want for Christmas is…”

And over the decades have our wants grown and greatly increased in number and tree presentscostliness. From one or two presents per person in an “average” household in the 1930’s we have come to lists of wants that range into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

But isn’t Christmas about something other than ME? About something other than what I WANT?

The people of the Galilee wanted a warrior king that would overcome the Roman oppression. The apostles wanted a teacher and master that would make them second in command, live a long time doing the healings and signs, and eventually give them knowledge of how to do the same so they would have a nice retirement. But that isn’t who they got…

It is not about what we want – Christmas is about what we need. Even when we do not know we need it. Every Christmas I can recall I got socks and handkerchiefs from my mother. Especially in my teens I didn’t really want them – but she knew I needed them. I did get a few things I wanted but never the stuff I thought I thought I could not live without – for that year.

So if God were going to give me what I really need this year what might it be….

  • A deeper appreciation for what I already have – especially friends, a caring parish community, and wonderful colleagues in Jeffersonville and throughout the diocese. Relatively good health; a wonderful wife and partner… good kids; and a sense of purpose and usefulness.
  • Some better ways to help me communicate to Nancy, Chris, Joe, Maki and Isis, my sister, her family and Nancy’s extended family the love and appreciation I feel for them for all of the support and encouragement they have given over the years.
  • Gratitude for things I have learned and the grace to acknowledge the times I learned things too late or at another’s expense.
  • Courage to stand against the abuses and compromises in our social and political systems that oppress and destroy the people of God. And willingness that I have less so that others may have some.
  • The ability to translate and share the Good News to generations I do not fully understand.
  • To take some time to sit and be – rather than constantly do…
  • And I suspect there would be the things I cannot think of because I don’t yet know I need them.

If we make a promise about giving this year this year don’t make it to give less! Rather let it be to give people less of what they want and more of what they need. For most of it comes without much of a financial price tag,  but has a personal cost to us – and isn’t that what giving is all about?

Don

About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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