Christmas is a time that is often full of great pleasure taken in the giving and receiving of gifts. I can recall that when my children were young I would start looking for presents for each of them months before December. Not to catch items on sale but to catch that spark of a thought that, yes, that would be a great gift… The hunting and gathering, if you will allow me the phrase, of finding those special gifts that just matched each of the boys, was one of the more enjoyable experiences of my life.
Enjoyable because I would catch the perfect understanding of how the one receiving would enjoy, appreciate, be thankful for, take pleasure in, utilize, smile at receiving – but most of all, understand, that I loved them, and knew them, and was displaying that in the gifts I had found for them.
For what was really going on was that I was making use of another means of saying “I love you.”
Not that this was the only way that I said I love you, it was just another means of saying “I love you”
Not that this was the only way to said I love you, it was just another way of making, and sending, and outward expression of what was in my heart.
I would like to think that I also provided other ways of communicating my love back in those days of their childhood. One of my favorites, that still warms my heart of my being able to do, was to try as best as I could to remind each child before the fell asleep that I loved them. Even now, what the three of us guys all having grown significantly older, I still deeply enjoy the ability to say “I love you,” even thought it is difficult due to circumstances to do with one son, and with the other son it is far to often only possible to say it in words over the phone.
Of course it also warms my heart, even to the point my eyes leaking just a bit as I write this, to hear those words spoken to me by either one of my sons. For I, like all other father, need to be loved and appreciate knowing that we are.
Thus I try to remember, amongst all the great sales that cry out in print, radio, television, billboards, mail, text messages, word-of-mouth, and the internet, that Christmas is not about the presents – it is about love. About having love and about expressing love.
Now for me, as some of you my dear readers know, that Christmas love is very specific and is represented by the birth of Christ Child, a gift that I view as the ultimate freely given gift of undeserved love. But there is something about Christmas-time being about love that, while I would personally hope everyone would recognize it that way that I do, it expands to and through folks without respect to their thoughts or theology, beliefs, or behaviors. To be loved and to express love seems to be and almost universal human need across the cultures of the world.
The ability to show love at Christmas is a wonderful opportunity for each and everyone one of us. The ability to have that love is and even greater thing; for you cannot give what you do not have.
To quote myself, “You got to have it to give it, and you can’t give it fit you don’t have it, but if you have it and give it, they get it, and you still got it.”
Loving words, gifts, gestures, and behaviors are not love, the are but expressions of love. Out-ward, visible, hearable, tactile symbols of love; they are bout valuable outward expressions of an inward presence. Love is what is in us, what is our very being – what we often refer to as being in our heart.
After the basic need for substance (food and water), and the basic desire for safety, love follows as the third basic need of we human beings.
We cannot truly become all the we can potentially be without knowing that we are loved. We need to receive love, whether it is from parent, spouse, children, extended family, friends… Receiving love, knowing that we are love , is a basic need of human beings. And it turns out it is also a basic building block to constructing our personality, our character, our future.
But with out someone else having love to give to us, we can’t receive it. So it is vital that we have love so we can share it. While I know you do not need the reminder, I confess that at times I do that, love is within for all people – love people, not things. The love of things will never result in the return of love, but the love of people often will. However, in all cases the love held within and expressed outside for others will be rewarded in and of itself.
Christmas is a great time to share love. It’s a wonderful time of the year to share expressions of love with family and to share love with friends. There are also types of love that can be shared with strangers such as expressions of love by giving food or clothing to house in need, working in an area homeless shelter, tutoring children, etc.
And, if you have been reading these writings of mine over the past few months, you know this is coming, it is also a great time to express love to those who protect our nation, protect our community, teach our children or grandchildren, preach in our churches, wait on our tables, ring-up and bag up or groceries, see that we have running water and sewer/septic systems, plow our roads, etc. Yes, I wrote “love’ and I mean “love” as love comes and resides in our heart in many fashions, which means that there are many folks to whom we can express love.
Love of course isn’t limited to Christmas. So, here’s a challenge I made for myself that you might join on. Instead of Christmas being the peak time of expressing love, let us make it the starting point in which we build up love within us and expand the expressions of love in the months ahead.
Got love – share love – get love.