The greatest gift of all Print
Cutting Edge
Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

Guest Column

The economic crisis our country is experiencing provides us with a wonderful opportunity to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas, rather than on the materialistic spirit that often permeates our Western culture.

Since so many people are unemployed or under employed and many family incomes are shrinking, a number of people will have to limit the type of gifts they give.

And you know what? I don't think it is such a bad problem to have. Maybe we will become more in tune with the reason this time is known as the feast of Christmas rather than the "holiday" season.

Gift giving is good but often we tend to go overboard and tend to measure a person's love and care for us by the gifts they give us. And sometimes we give gifts just because someone gives a gift to us. We shudder in horror if someone brings us something and we did not get anything for him or her. It can cause a lot of unneeded stress.

God is always faithful

The sharing of gifts is meant to be a sign of one's love and God gave us the greatest gift of all -- Jesus. Like I heard in a homily at Christmas Mass a couple of years ago, Christmas is God's way of telling us he loves us personally. That sums up the message of Christianity. How utterly profound that is.

Whether we recognize it or not, God's love touches every human being and the world. Without this divine love, nothing would exist. God's love, whether apparent or not, is the glue that keeps the world together. That is what gives us hope.

Material gifts don't last forever (except maybe diamonds). Many get lost, broken, lose their usefulness, or we get bored with them.

God's love never fades. It is eternal, always there. God is always faithful, even when we are not. God loves us so much that he desires to be with us, morning, noon, and night. His care for us is so great that God even became a human being for us. This is what we celebrate at Christmas.

God's gift is love and the way God chooses to love is through us. We are his ordinary instruments. God can't give a hug, but we can.

Give of ourselves

Maybe during this Christmas season we can give the kind of gifts that no amount of money can buy. We could give of ourselves rather than merely material things.

We could work on mending or renewing old relationships. Or we could do that charitable act that we think about a lot but never seem to get around to doing. Another thing would be to visit or call some people who you know are lonely or need some comfort.

Finally, there is no problem with giving gifts to others at Christmas, but remember the significance behind them and emphasize the love, not the monetary value.

Try to take more time to ponder the true meaning of Christmas and less time in the malls. If the value of Christmas is merely measured by the things we get, then it might be a very sparse Christmas for a lot of us.

I hope it is a beautiful season for you and those you care about.

Sr. Margie Lavonis, a freelance writer, is a Sister of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Ind.