As secular society brushes off Christmas for another year, Catholics know very well that Christmas never truly ends because, at the end of the day, giving never ends. You see, secular society has Christmas all wrong and, in fact, has it upside down, as it has so many things that truly matter. For secular society, Christmas is all about getting gifts or finding the gift that will make us look good. Sure, people often get excited about finding the right gift, and that is certainly better than being simply obsessed with getting gifts, as some are. However, this focus is still far more superficial and fleeting than it should be. We have all heard that “it is better to give than to receive” and with good reason. The road to sanctity and holiness is paved with unselfish humility lined with unconditional love and service. The saints certainly provide us with scores of examples of unselfish giving with love, and that is certainly a part of the Christmas we should embrace.
As noted above, most of secular society’s concern with Christmas is figuring out ways to make a buck off people’s desire to give or get the perfect gift. Even more sadly, the remaining focus is on figuring out ways to make a buck off people’s dissatisfaction with the gifts they did get. The mantra seems to be “pay us to be the perfect giver” and “pay us to turn bad gifts into good ones”. There is nothing inherently wrong with returning gifts we cannot use or prefer to exchange for something else. The problem lies when we focus too much on gifting as some sort of equal exchange or, perhaps worse, some sort of investment on achieving more of what we want.
In our society and media, re-gifting, or having someone give a gift they have received as a gift to someone else, is often mocked as a cheap way of turning those gifts into bargains. We often see how TV characters are deeply offended upon discovering that some gift they gave has been re-gifted. The greatest joke, of course, is when we receive our original gift back from an oblivious or forgetful recipient. This is supposed to be deep gash or insult demonstrating ingratitude, rejection, and who knows what other evils.
This is not, however, God’s take on gifting. He wants us to re-git as much as possible, spreading what He has blessed us with to as many other folks as we can. Recall how the servants who re-invested and spread the talents received were praised while the servant who merely hid his talent was criticized and lost what he was given. God does not want us to hide our gifts for ourselves, for that defeats the original purpose and potential of the gift in the first place. No, on the contrary, God calls us to use our gifts to serve others and bring glory to Him. In a sense, he who re-gifts God’s gifts is doing God’s work and following Christ’s example to a tee. Think about the gifts God has given you, and about the ways you can use those gifts to change lives for the better. If you do, you will surely be celebrating Christmas, and giving, all year round.
Gabriel Garnica Copyright 2014, all rights reserved.