Christmas All Year

By Galina Olivera-Celdran, PhD, LPCA, LCAS

The best gift I ever received as a child was a green bike with black and orange tires and a shiny little bell. Picture of Christmas tree with words to O Little Town of BethlehemI knew the bike cost as much as my mom’s monthly paycheck and that it was a sacrifice for my parents to make my wish come true. Throughout my childhood the bike was a tangible reminder of how much my parents loved and cared for me.

It is important to pause during this busy Christmas season and explore the ways we can also give gifts that let others know they are special to us. God’s example of giving is a good place to start. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). No earthly gift can ever compare to the gift of God’s Son or the gift of eternal life but we can learn to give gifts that demonstrate our love and care for others.

Taking the time to pay attention and listen carefully when spending time with your loved ones makes it easier to come up with ideas for their perfect gift. We can also show our appreciation for those close to us by learning to speak their love language. Marriage counselor, Gary Chapman, lists five love languages we use when expressing our love for others: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. We feel the most loved and appreciated when other people express their love toward us in our language. For example, if your wife’s love language is words of affirmation, include a handwritten note expressing your love for her with your gift. If your husband’s love language is quality time, a gift that will allow you to spend uninterrupted time together such as a restaurant gift card or a weekend away together might a good choice.

God’s giving is sacrificial. When we think about sacrifice, we may perceive it in a negative light—having to part with something we value for the sake of someone else. God’s view of sacrifice has an eternal perspective with our best interests in mind. When God gave Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins, He gave the most precious gift He could bestow, His Son. If we accept His gift we receive forgiveness for our sins, a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and eternal life! In our own relationships, we may make sacrifices of time or resources, but we also may reap many benefits. Our relationships with others grow closer and more satisfying. Both parties in the relationship experience more joy and contentment as a result. In most relationships, sacrificial giving blesses both the receiver and the giver. We reap the benefits of having a deeper connection, a closer friendship, a better understanding and appreciation for one another.

My parents soon also realized that their sacrificial gift of a bicycle resulted in a mutual benefit. I enjoyed riding my bike and was willing to make numerous trips to buy groceries or ride my bike to sell produce at the farmer’s market. I was even willing to deliver messages to relatives and neighbors.

This Christmas, as you decide on gifts for your loved ones, think about what their perfect gift would be—as the green bike with black and orange tires, and the shiny little bell was for me. I hope that thought encourages you to give more intentionally. Remember also, gifts do not need to be tangible presents or given only during Christmas. Just as God continues to show His love and tender care for us in many ways each day, we can be faithful and creative in showing our love and appreciation for those we love. May the joy and the spirit of Christmas, as we celebrate God’s perfect gift to us, inspire us to reflect God’s love in our relationships throughout the whole year.