Thor Ramsey wrote a LOL article listing some of the myths about Christmas that included this funny observation:
“Myth # 4: The Younger You Are the More Gifts You Should Get.
Truth: You know what I don’t like about the holidays? It’s this rule of Christmas: the younger you are the more gifts you get. My sister’s pregnant. The fetus has more presents under the tree than I do.
The kid doesn’t even have feet yet, why does he need a stocking?
I tell you what a great gift for a newborn baby is ~ a spice rack.
Hey, that’s what they got the baby Jesus for Christmas ~ frankincense, and myrrh? Come on, that’s a spice rack. They might have been three wise men, but they were bad shoppers.”
LOL! Take time to read all of the myths here: “Christian Myths” (at crosswalk.com, 12-16-2004).
But seriously, how does one choose a perfect gift at Christmas? Here are some tips:
- Pray for wisdom as you make your Christmas list (James 1:5a)
- Make a list of everyone you have to buy for this year. Get it written all down so you can see the big picture.
- Prioritize the list ~ family first, other relatives and/or close friends second, co-workers/hairdressers, etc. last.
- Think about the budget. After each name, write down the reasonable amount of money you have for that person (remembering, perhaps, what they bought you last year!). It doesn’t have to be expensive or huge to be “perfect” for them.
- Think about each person to narrow down possible gift choices. What do they love to do (hobbies/interests) and what might their personality dictate in choosing a gift?
- Anticipate. List one or two ideas about what you want to look for, for each person, before you go shopping.
- Go fishing ~ you may need to “fish” for ideas with the recipient or a loved one. It’s OK to “ask around.”
- When shopping, check out the clearance section in each store to see if any of the items you’re looking for are there (or check online for the same). Don’t waste money.
- Get creative. Perhaps you can make a meaningful gift. Or attach a handmade Christmas note or tag. Consider a personalized gift. A food gift.
- Consider a gift card if it is appropriate ~ if the person can get something they really want or will use (but consider attaching the gift card to something fun or useful). Or give great promotional coupons (like housecleaning, errand running, etc.) if the person would use them.
- Consider a family gift package – something they can do together.
- Regarding children ~ Remember safety and age-appropriateness.
- Picture this ~ a framed photograph is great for grandparents, a special loved one, or your best friend. A treasured childhood family picture framed exquisitely is priceless.
- Ask yourself questions: “Will the recipient really like this, or is it just something I would like to have? Will this bless the person? Will he/she use this or just have to find a place to store it? Does this gift show I value the person?”
- Wrap it up pretty! Presentation counts ~ a feast for the eyes.
The tradition of Christmas giving arose from those three Wise Men who were NOT bad shoppers. The Magi ~ they were not called wise men in the scripture, but were likely royal Persian astronomers or advisers to kings ~ went to Jerusalem seeking Israel’s newborn king. But he wasn’t there. God directed them to Bethlehem with a brilliant star, and they offered baby Jesus gifts that were precious and meaningful. They thought about the perfect gifts for a King of Kings: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Gold was certainly a gift for a king. In tradition, we often see this gold as a jar, but it could just as well have been coins, jewelry, or even chunks of gold.
Frankincense was rare and valued, often used in Temple worship. Frankincense burned on the altar and its smoke symbolized the Israelites’ prayers rising up to God.
Frankincense was a blessed gift for a divine child.
Myrrh was also valuable as a perfume, but it had another more ominous use. Myrrh was used in the cloths that wrapped bodies for burial. It’s strong smell was believed to help cover the smell of decay.
Myrrh was a prophetic gift for a child who was born to die.
The story indicates that the Magi knew Jesus was going to be more than a great teacher or prophet. They understood that He was the Messiah ~ the promised Savior. Gold, frankincense and myrrh certainly seem to be perfect gifts; but there was another gift offered that day when the Wise Men came, and if we are wise, we will offer it to Jesus too.
The Bible says they came seeking “the one who has been born king of the Jews” in order to worship him (Matthew 2:1-2) and when they saw Jesus, they did just that ~ “they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11).
It’s worship. It’s praise. It’s magnifying His name so all the earth will know He is the King who will rule with power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18).
The Perfect Gift?
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker.” ~ Psalm 95:6