Christmas Days come and go; gifts are given and gifts are received. The Christmas tree that was bursting with colorful presents before always stands a bit forlorn with its branches empty after the big day. It is true that this season has become almost synonymous with gifts, from the excitement of choosing just the right gifts, wrapping them in gaily colored paper and ribbon, to watching the anticipation in our grandchildren’s eyes when they see their name on the tag. Gifts and gift givers have been the target of advertising now for months; consumerism and Santa Claus have greatly obscured the real meaning of gift giving and gift receiving.

So we need to take time out to remember the miraculous gifts of the first Christmas. During the holiday season I like to reread about the real gifts as written by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance, in her Dec 10 rumination. She lists seven sets of gifts, saying that the real gifts of Christmas were wrapped in miracles.

The first gift was of Spirit, the Spirit of the Unconditional Love of God for mankind. The next gift came from a Jewish teenage girl, Mary, whose Christmas present was her “Yes” to God, her selflessness, the complete surrender of ego and will needed to bring Heaven down to earth. The gifts of her betrothed Joseph were trust and faith.

The Infant Child Jesus brought forgiveness, wholeness, and second chances for God’s people, for each one of us. The angels’ gifts were tidings of comfort, joy, and peace, with the assurance that there was nothing to fear, so rejoice! The shepherd boy’s gift was generosity in giving Jesus his favorite lamb.

The Wise Men, the Magi, offered not only gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but their real gifts were wonder, acceptance, and courage. They offered wonder by surrendering logic, reason, and common sense to follow a Star. Accepting the impossible situation they found themselves in, they suspended skepticism long enough to double-cross King Herod. With courage, they made the long journey to kneel before the Christ Child, accepting Him as King even though they found him in a cave lying in a straw-filled manger.

Yes, Christmas is all about gifts. Miraculous gifts. Gifts tied with heartstrings of Unconditional Love. Selflessness. Trust and Faith. Forgiveness. Second Chances. Generosity. Joy. Peace. Reassurance and Rejoicing. Wonder. Courage. Both on the part of the givers and those who received the gifts.

We need to ask ourselves: did I give such miraculous gifts this Christmas? What about the gifts I received, were they gifts such as these? This kind of gift is not found in the malls or on the internet or under the Christmas tree in our sala. These gifts come from our heart and are wrapped in pure love. Have I been a generous and loving giver as well as a grateful and loving recipient this Christmas? Are my gifts, those I give and those I receive, wrapped in miracles? Let me think…

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