Where Are the Really Good Gifts?

December 17, 2010

At just a week away from Christmas, I still have not finished my shopping.

It’s kind of funny.  We go to so much hassle and inconvenience to give each other gifts.  We fight crowds and cold weather.  And then what do we do a few weeks after Christmas?

We forget about the gifts.

I think I know why.  For all the trouble we go to, and the thought that can go into a gift, we never get the best gifts at Christmas.  The best gifts were doled out over the whole year.  Those are the gifts that matter so much more than a wrapped up toy.

Some of you survived cancer, or some other disease this year.  Some of you walked away from an addiction.  Some of you got out of a bad relationship, or started a good relationship.  Some of you had children.  Some of you put a family back together.  Some of you felt happy for the first time in a while.  Some of you got a job you really needed.  Some of you met Jesus for the first time.  And some of you are having a really tough year…but you’re still here.  God’s brought you through circumstances you never thought you could survive.  And some of you had just a very ordinary year.  But I always say the biggest gifts are sometimes that nothing happened! 

The funny thing is, sometimes we even forget the really good gifts, and just skim over them, like nothing happened.

Something else I’ve noticed.  As a kid, Christmas was it.  There was no bigger excitement than the thrill of new things I so desperately coveted.  One of my favorite gifts was a Mr. Potato Head.  I haven’t felt that way about Christmas, or potatoes in years.  Being an adult doesn’t afford so many pure joys as childhood.  But it’s those really good gifts that happen thoughout the year that maybe make an adult feel like a kid at Christmas again.

Me?  It was a pretty ordinary year.  That’s something I’m thankful for.  Although it’s not a promotion by any means, I was able to take a new job in a terrible job market.  My wife and I haven’t wanted for anything.  We’ve been married another year, and I’m still relatively healthy, though I’ve had to start seeing my chiropractor brother-in-law.  I built great friendships and I’m part of a church I love.  Whatever I open on Christmas can’t compare to that, and I feel truly excited when I think about those big gifts I’ve torn open this year.

I want to hear from you.  What were the real gifts you got this year, the kind that made you feel like a kid at Christmas?

23 responses to Where Are the Really Good Gifts?

  1. The first half of the year was a blast. Somehow God willed it that kids I met in kindergarten would be my best friends in high school and my roommates in college. We knew that we would disperse after graduation, so we made the most of the time that we had together. So many memories…

    The second half of the year was a hard move and a harder academic regimen. But still, God’s been faithful and He’s provided even beyond “mere” faithfulness. I’ve been truly blessed.

    I’ve been so focused on finals, so thanks for posting this. I’m good with recognizing broad gifts like salvation and the Gospel, but a lot of the time I neglect the specifics. There are things you know, but sometimes you have to stop to know them, you know?
    Jo_of_TSN recently posted..Incarnation

  2. Well Matt, I would be unforgivably remiss to not say, in truth, one of the great gifts this year was coming to know you.

  3. The real gift of this year for me was wonderful friendships.

    I went through what you could call a bad season for around five months in the first half of this year. Some really difficult stuff happened and I withdrew from people, pretended everything was fine and tried to handle everything myself. Things got pretty dark. Midyear God started to pull me out of my shell. When he did, I discovered a depth of friendship, care and compassion from my Christian friends I didn’t know existed. I have so many wonderful memories with those friends in the second half of the year. I just wish it didn’t take such pain to discover it.
    Joanna recently posted..Book review- Andy Stanley- The Grace Of God

  4. The greatest gifts this year were moments with family and friends. My love language is time together; though I am cranked that I’ve got a new camera coming for Christmas! (I was once a professional photographer.)

    There was the body surfing with my the 6-year-old on Cape Cod, Hot Dogs at the Dog House, fried clams at while looking out over the North Atalntic, a Fall trek in the White Mountains; just me and the Lord, dates nights with my wife, the little one telling the 22-y-o that she didn’t need a gun “cuz you’ll shoot your privates off.”, a seaside anniversary retreat, leaving to a group-hug each morning and getting 3-way kisses from my ladies when I get home, we survived another lay-off – then there has been the new church/pastor and open doors, fellowship and love like I have not experienced in church in 30+ years – oh yeah and 2 clear cancer screens.

    I am looking forward to enjoying snow tubing, coffee and the hot tub the week after Christmas with my family.

    Santa likes me, and Jesus loves me.

    Merry Christmas.
    David recently posted..Geek Giving When You Already Have Everything

  5. I’ve always been amazed at God’s blessings in my life, but this year has been especially full. Not only do we already have two awesome kids, but we are about 2/3s of the way through with baking our third “unexpected blessing.” Added to that (and the fact that our marriage has made it through another year – never something to sneeze at), we also were able to find a renter for our condo and buy a beautiful single family home that actually has enough space for us to live in, not to mention have guests stay over!

    I did buy a little something for my husband, but there’s just really nothing that I even want for Christmas myself other than to spend it with family and get to see how excited our kids will be with their couple of gifts.

    We’ve also taken to “giving” Heifer, International animals each year instead of “real” gifts. Makes shopping MUCH easier (and makes me less stressed about giving people more STUFF that they don’t need)! This year we may hit up Compassion’s gift catalog for vocational training instead though.
    Princess Leia recently posted..Shoeboxes!

  6. God literally saved my daughter’s life. I am in the Navy and I was supposed to transfer this year to a remote location that didn’t have a treatment center for about 75 miles away. We prayed hard, but it looked like the Navy was still going to send my family to this location. Then, seemingly like the 11th hour, we were redirected to a location with a great treatment center very close to us. It was such a blessing!
    Dan Smith recently posted..Merry Christmas Students!

  7. My son was born this year. No gift could ever top that.
    James Palmer recently posted..Why I am a Pacifist

  8. I’d have to say the biggest gift for me this year was just surviving it.
    Jason recently posted..Mustard Seed Year

    • There you go, man. I’ve been visiting with a woman who’s been through a ton of stuff the last five years, and is now battling serious illness. Some would say she’s a lightning rod. I say, look at all the things God has helped her through that she wouldn’t have believed she could survive. God is faithful.

  9. Thanks, Matt, for the reminder to count our blessings. After several really difficult years in a row, 2010 has been a reprieve, and I am grateful. However, I’ve found that there is a blessing in the hard years, as well–we’re forced to depend on God in a way that comfort never demands.

    I’m so thankful for two daughters in healthy, Godly marriages, a cancer-free dad (who turns 89 next month), a supporter’s gift of a week last May at her timeshare in Puerto Rico (and the quality time with my sweetie there), and enough ministry support to finish the year in the black (barely). God’s going to have a hard time topping this year!

  10. My husband got really sick on vacation (35yo, non-smoker, eats pretty healthy, you get the picture); we thought for the better part of a day that he was having a heart attack. It was later determined to be an infection causing heart attack symptoms, and now, 5 months later, he has no residual effects.

    After losing my mom (who was only 55) 2 1/2 years ago to cancer, and experiencing what I did this summer with my husband, I’m thankful that our little family gets to spend another Christmas together. Because you just never know.
    Nicole @ Here’s The Diehl recently posted..It’s Never a Good Sign…

  11. A real gift at our house is good health. Pretty amazing for a couple with 120 years behind them (that’s combined, just in case you thought otherwise). Good health is priceless. As such, God has put us in a position to care for others, and we shall, as we continue to act like the kids we are at heart.
    Candy recently posted..Functional Foodie Friday- Winter Lentil Soup

  12. You know that saying that, when you get to the end of your rope, just tie a know and hang on? Well, maybe sometimes we are supposed to let go. ; )

    I was at the end of my rope this year, feeling stuck in a job athat I hated but was told was my calling by those in authority, trying to be faithful in a ministry that had serious issues but no way to address it to the leadership, and pulled too far in every direction. I was determined to “hang in there” though, even if it meant being continually unhappy. Fortunately, God came in and cut the rope. Turns out he had a safety net below me all along. Since then, I’ve been the happiest and most joyful that I’ve ever been in the last 7 years, accepting the births of my 2 kids. So, this year the greatest gift is that God had mercy on me and cut me free when I didn’t have the strength to let go.

    • Ugh…know = knot in the first sentence. I’m in a Chinese take-out coma right now, so please over look any typos.

  13. Last Christmas my wife, who is young and healthy, unexpectedly had a heart attack. She was in the hospital for two weeks, but thankfully recovered.

    She has had almost no health problems since. Every day that is an ordinary day is a gift to me.

  14. The birth of my first daughter on July 14th – Riley Grace.
    jay sauser recently posted..…”it’s beginning to a lot like Jesus”…

  15. I’m thankful that nothing life-changing has really happened this year. Growing up my life was extremely chaotic and full of drama. Nothing makes me happier than just regular day-to-day life. I have a wonderful husband, 2 amazing kids and super fun pets. What more do I need?

  16. Peace…that peace of knowing everything is going to be all right. I mean, look who’s in control?
    Nikole Hahn recently posted..Christmas Memories

  17. Got victory of some struggles…my relationship with God sparked into a revival.
    Jason recently posted..Questions Answered

  18. Dude, my kids accepted Christ last night!
    Dan Smith recently posted..The 2nd Greatest Christmas Gift