Oh, I really don’t need a thing. Please don’t get me anything. I’m just glad that you can be here. All of us have heard those words from parents, siblings and lovers. In fact, we’ve most likely spoken them ourselves. Nonetheless, we go out and buy a gift for the one telling us not to bother and others do the same for us. Why do we all do this?
Gifts have many meanings. Usually they have significance for the receiver; they always hold significance for the giver.
Giving a gift to our Creator is a concept full of contradiction. We have nothing and do nothing that the Creator’s gift of our very existence doesn’t make possible. To speak of giving God something is, at heart, a figure of speech. But it’s a powerful figure of speech.
When we give a gift to a loved one, knowing that he or she hasn’t any need for candy or roses or a new bathrobe, we remind ourselves of how much we value him or her. Even going out into the cold of a winter’s night reminds us of how fortunate we are to have this person in our lives. We may grumble at the parking lot slush and grouse at pushy people pawing through shelves but we know how wounded our lives would be were the loved one for whom we shop. We certainly hope that our lover will enjoy our gift but, in some ways, we know that we need to give the gift more than our lover needs to receive it.
We’ve all heard someone we love say to us, “You didn’t need to get me anything.” And we’ve responded, “Sure I did. I love you; how could I not get you something!”
The saying is true: It’s not the gift that counts; it’s the thought behind it. With God, even that thought is a gift to us. Though we look like the giver, once again we’re the receiver.
Funny how that works.