Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gifts - The Kind You Wrap and the Kind You Don't

By Julie Marie Rahm

This is Christmas week. I am sitting by our Christmas tree, laptop on my lap, delighting in the beauty of the lights and ornaments that adorn the tree. Under the tree lay gifts wrapped in seasonal paper and bows. I love Christmas! I do. I love everything about it. Most of all, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I am filled with awe and reverence that God himself would choose to come to earth in human form to offer eternal life to all who accept it. Has there ever been a better gift?

We give gifts on Christmas as a symbol of the original Christmas gift of Jesus. However, sometimes we allow the tradition of gift giving to become a burden. We may feel the money is not there to buy gifts, or that we are too busy to think about what someone would enjoy receiving, or that we are too busy to shop. Gifts become one more thing on our lists to do and we just want to check them off.

Allow me to offer a fresh perspective on gifts. Most of the gifts we give and receive do not come in boxes and cannot be wrapped in paper. In each moment of our lives we are either giving or receiving gifts. In every situation we can ask ourselves two powerful questions: what gift did I bring to this moment? And, what gift did I receive in this moment?

Looking at life as a continuous stream of gifts enables us to find peace and joy in every moment, regardless of the situation, whether we perceive that situation to be good or bad. The reality of life is that there is no good or bad. There is just life happening and the meaning we attach to life as it unfolds. We can choose the meaning we attach to everything and we can choose meanings that serve us. This week, let us challenge ourselves to find the good in every aspect of our lives, from the most mundane, to the most difficult and most obvious aspects of our lives.

Each day, notice the gifts you received and the gifts you gave in as many moments throughout the day as possible. Enjoy the moments that feel good and challenge yourself to find gifts in moments that you perceive to be bad. Be aware of both the gift you gave and the gift you received in each situation. These gifts can be as simple as giving your gift of attention, or receiving the feeling of being understood. There is no right or wrong answer.

If we can be aware of our gifts for one day, we can do it for two days, and then three days. We can keep the spirit of Christmas in our lives all year long!

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