Christmas giving is often approached in the same way we approach grocery shopping. Families exchange wish lists and then go about checking off purchases one by one. Efficient, methodical, business-like. The bags of goods are then delivered and stacked under the tree in anticipation of Christmas morning consumption.
How different from another approach to holiday giving I read about several years ago . . .
An old man, in preparation for the birth of Christ, carefully and prayerfully considered each loved one on his Christmas list. Then, because of his meager economic means, he handcrafted something dove-tailed to the needs and personality of each recipient.
Finally, since he had no transportation, he made numerous treks, long and short, to deliver each precious parcel.
When he showed up one December day, a bit out of breath and weary, at the home of a friend and extended his Christmas offering, the friend, knowing the long journey on foot the old man had traveled to get there, exclaimed, “Oh, my goodness, you came all this way to bring me a present!”
To which the old man gently responded, “Long walk part of gift.”
Far from our efficient, business-like exchanges, the old man’s gift giving surpasses our generosity by light years. Within each of his boxes was a serious investment of himself. His time. His energy. His prayers. His patience. His love. Even his suffering, freely and cheerfully given.
This Christmas I might fall back into the grocery list mentality, but I pray that at least a portion of the old man’s spirit will be in my sharing and that with him, I’ll be able to say, “Long walk part of gift.”