The quest for the perfect gift
By Gary McCollough, Pastor
Flat Springs Baptist Church, Sanford
Have you ever gone on a quest for a Christmas gift? I remember in the 1980s there was a mad scramble to find a Cabbage Patch Doll because that was the must-have Christmas gift for little girls. I had two little girls at that time. In that pre-internet time period, the only way to go on the quest was to travel from store to store and look for the doll. Some marketing Einstein had monkeyed with the infamous “supply-demand” principle to where demand far outweighed supply and the Cabbage Patch babies were not being “born” fast enough. A Black Friday experience was being produced around the hard-to-find dolls and the word was on the street when a shipment was coming. Fights actually broke out over purchasing the hard-to-find Christmas toy.
The reason parents were so passionate about the quest for the best gift was they wanted their child to have the very best. We all have heard the statement that when it comes to gifts, it is the thought that counts (unless you are really expecting a Cabbage Patch Doll). What is the thought behind gift-giving? Not that obligatory gift because you gave me one. The gift that really matters is the one that expresses our relational emotion and love. In a society that has made Christmas the economic engine of our economy, it is often hard to see the real meaning of giving the gift that matters.
In his short story, The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry speaks powerfully to giving gifts that matter.
In this story of gift-giving at its best, Jim Young and his wife, Della, are a couple living in a modest flat. They each have one worldly possession of value: Della's beautiful long, flowing hair, almost to her knees, and Jim's shiny gold watch, which had belonged to his father and grandfather.
On Christmas Eve, with $1.87 in hand, and desperate to find a gift for Jim, Della sells her hair for $20, and eventually finds a platinum chain for Jim's watch for $21. When Jim comes home, he looks at Della with a strange expression. Della then admits to Jim that she sold her hair to buy him his present. Jim gives Della her present — an assortment of expensive combs for her hair. Della then shows Jim the chain she bought for him, to which Jim says he sold his watch to get the money to buy combs for her beautiful long hair. Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither can use, they realize they are willing to sacrifice their most precious possession for the person they love. It is the thought that counts!
The story ends with the narrator comparing the pair's mutually sacrificial gifts of love with those of the Biblical Magi or Wisemen, as we know them, who brought the Christ child gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Many of us have received a duplicate gift or a gift that we really didn’t need (or want) and either did or was tempted to re-gift it. You are aware of the concept of re-gifting, aren’t you? You take that gift that was given to you and give it as a gift to someone else. Let me introduce us to a new concept, share-gifting.
To seriously go on the quest for the perfect gift, it would have to be a gift we could give and keep at the same time. It would contradict the old adage, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too." Share-gifting can only be done with the perfect gift, the best gift, the greatest gift.
The gift of Christmas is God sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to allow each of us access to eternal life. If you have not received this gift, then you have not received the perfect Christmas gift. Let me challenge you to go on a quest! If you have received the perfect gift, remember, it is a gift we can share-gift. You can keep it and you can give to others at the same time. Merry Christmas!