What is the true meaning of a gift? The definition on the Webster’s online dictionary gives us three definitions…
1: a notable [worthy of attention or notice; remarkable] capacity [the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something], talent [natural aptitude or skill.], or endowment [a quality or ability possessed or inherited by someone.]. 2: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation. 3: the act, right, or power of giving.
The pressure to measure up to that special “gift” used to weigh heavily upon my shoulders and I would think less of myself if I couldn’t afford to come up with a gift that I knew my children would circle in magazines or Newspaper ads. Yes, it is nice to be able to do those things (and do not get me wrong I love Christmas, and I love giving gifts and receiving them), but Christmas isn’t about meeting expectations of material things.
According to an online article on Pew Research Center (Americans Say Religious Aspects Are Declining In Public Life, Dec. 12, 2017), 90% of Americans will celebrate Christmas and 8 people out of 10 will celebrate Christmas with family and friends. If you are a believer or a non-believer most Americans will say that Christmas is celebrated by Christians as a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Giving and receiving the gift of Christmas can easily be caught in a world of unmet expectations that will bring you down during this holiday. This used to be a time of reflection on the one who came into this world to give us peace. Jesus. A baby wrapped up in cloths and born in a stinky manger. The scene isn’t beautiful. And yet it is. One of my favorite songs around this time is, “Mary did you know?” I usually listen to the Katina Brothers version of this song or the Pentatonix. I close my eyes and listen to these words especially… “Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am”
There is something marvelously beautiful knowing that Jesus, was not given a special birthing place, although He was a King. He was surrounded by the smell of urine and feces, yet it was a time where peace was brought to us. That the very same baby Mary was holding, came to earth to bring us peace. The angels said it in Luke 2:14, “Peace and good will to men.” God chose the lowly things to bring peace, to bring us closer to Him. In John 14:27 (NLT) Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.” The world wants you to think that Christmas is about getting or giving gifts, that you must celebrate it with family or else you are lonely or a terrible person, that Christmas should be or spent with only blood. This year you may not want to celebrate Christmas in a “traditional” manner. You are not a bad person when you can’t afford to buy a Christmas tree or even opt out of the purchase of a tree.
Christmas is something that you may not want to celebrate this year. Be honest and those who love you for you will understand. If, for some reason they do not, give them their space to come to their own peace with that.
I used to feel as if I was suffering when I did not meet expectations of what Christmas looked like in my own mind. The Webster’s online dictionary states that suffering is, “pain that is caused by injury, illness, loss, etc. : physical, mental, or emotional pain.” We can make suffering out of anything. It can affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally. But what happens when we accept that suffering is a state of mind and that if we perceive the reality of what we feel is giving us great pain and emotional distress can’t we then take that perceived reality of our suffering as not really suffering at all? Once we give ourselves the freedom to know that this life is fleeting, and this world cannot offer the peace that Jesus is asking us to receive from him. Then and only then can we receive the peace that is not of this world. The peace in knowing it is okay to not celebrate something that is causing you distress. Jesus came into the world to set us free, not to keep us in the bondage of traditions, religion, and cultural norms. This time of reflection, this time of celebration of the birth of a King who was born to bring us peace was not meant to harm an individual. He brought us peace on earth and goodwill to men. Peace is attainable in a mind that is free. Through His suffering on that cross, He says even now to this day…. I am leaving you with this gift. Peace of mind and heart. Are you willing to accept this gift?
Jesus says, in Matthew 11:28-30, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” That last words in verse 29 says, “Find rest for your souls.” It requires us to find it, to look for it, to seek it out. The gift He offers us is not the gift the world offers us. A gift can be the remarkable ability to experience or understand something. Jesus wants you to understand this Christmas that peace is yours as a gift from Him to you.
Angelica is a woman who is passionate for the Lord. She was born and raised in Hawaii. Angelica is also a devoted, loving wife, mother, and, grandmother. She is a sex-trafficking survivor and mentor, college graduate and holds a certification in substance abuse counseling. Currently, Angelica is a caretaker and small business owner. One of her greatest passions is seeing others accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because it is through that acceptance for others and herself where she has seen miracles, faith, hope, and Aloha (Love).