When the ornate Magi we read about in Luke Chapter 2, presented the Christ child with three rare gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, what was the symbolization of each? Did they expect a more royal and noble birth when choosing these expensively thoughtful presents? Were they surprised when they witnessed a baby, in a bundle of hay, lying in an animal’s feeding trough…in a barn? The irony of a king, thoughts of wealth, power, and affluence, born in such a lowly environment, blanketed in poverty, danger, and unexpected conditions….is enough to scratch one’s head with confused delight.
I recently found these glasses at a flea market while shopping with my mother. They fit my ‘Vintage Christmas’ idea to a ’T’. Yet, I talked myself out of them. I didn’t need them. I didn’t have room for them. They simply were not necessary.
The thing about gifts is….they aren’t necessary. But the joy they bring! They have a long language all their own! The excitement of knowing someone thought you worthy enough to purchase something special, just to show they care. That is the real gift.
I walked into my kitchen yesterday and found these delightful vintage glasses sitting on my counter, along with a hand-written note from my mother. She had bought the glasses for me. She knew I didn’t need them, yet she wanted me to have them, because she knew the shot of joy they would bring every time I use them or provide them to guests at my holiday table.
I am not sure what became of the gifts the Magi presented to the Christ child. Did Jesus’ parents carefully pack them into their saddlebags for the long journey ahead? Wouldn’t a warm and cozy onesie or some cloth diapers have made more sense for the precious baby Christ?
But gifts are not defined by sense, are they? They are given to bring a smile, a shot of excitement, warmth, and true gratitude. Gifts may be considered excessive, but has it not been said, ‘It is better to give than to receive’?
Perhaps the gifts the Magi brought were less about providing the perfectly usable trinket for the birth of a savior, and more about a show of grandeur, respect, awe, and reverence. After all, is there really a gift worthy of the child that gave his very life to save the world? I think not.
Going into the Christmas season, whether shopping for others or graciously receiving, whether falling in love with the absolute perfectly chosen present, or silently planning to re-gift at the next holiday affair, keep in mind that gifts are a symbol. A symbol of appreciation, loyalty, and love. The giver likely spent precious time pouring over the vast expanse of options, to find the perfect parcel, just for you. Whether they hit the bull’s eye of your heart or missed the mark by a landslide, the thoughtfulness is key to receiving with gratitude and giving in love. Just like those wise men gave hundreds of years ago. Just like my mother gave earlier this week. Just like God gave when he gifted the world with his own perfectly precious son, in the form of a human babe, birthed in lowly conditions, yet shining so bright in the darkest of night.