Everybody knows the story. The Three Magi came seeking the Christ child, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Practical gifts? Maybe not so much, though I’m sure the gold came in handy. (Raising kids is expensive.) Otherwise, the presents were more symbolic than usable; gifts for a king who would have to die for his kingdom. (Seriously…what’s a carpenter supposed to do with myrrh?)
We come bearing gifts, too. We might not always recognize their importance, but we should. Some gifts make themselves obvious — a fabulous singing voice or a knack with decorations, for instance. Others are subtler, but no less essential. A listening ear, a kind gesture, the giving of one’s time — these gifts are always appreciated, especially at this time of year, when so many are feeling stressed out or lonely.
As we approach Christmas, let us think about what gifts we might bring to Jesus and to one another. Don’t overlook the obvious, but do look deeper. A friend of mine always wanted to learn how to blow glass. She now makes prayer bracelets out of her gorgeous hand-blown beads. I bought a slew of them for Christmas presents. Gift. My dentist found a stray pooch who was too rattled to be left alone, so she brings the dog into the office with her, where this once insecure mutt brings comfort to those (and there are more than you think) who are rattled about going to the dentist’s office. Gift.
I often find myself thinking I haven’t got much to give. My little blog posts, read by a stalwart few, probably don’t have frankincense-level reverberations in the world. But I am good about praying for other people, and believe in the efficacy of prayer. Sometimes I think it’s the only real tool that matters. I try to listen to others, to smile at strangers, to reassure bumblers (like the lady who tried to get into my car outside the pharmacy last night thinking I was there to pick her up), mostly because I consider myself a bumbler. I care about animals and justice for those who don’t usually get any.
So what is your gift? What can you lay down beside the manger? What would you give if you could give anything in the world?
Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s as good as gold. And definitely better than myrrh.