We’re coming up to Christmas and, no doubt, you’re beginning to think of all the gifts for the various people you ought to be giving. I’ve always sort of ranked gifts in categories in my mind:
- Gifts you didn’t even know you wanted until you got them which are brilliant
- Gifts you did know you wanted and you got them and they prove to be as brilliant as you thought
- Gifts you didn’t know you wanted but are nice enough
- Gifts you suggested so people had ideas and are basically fine
- Gifts where, you can see why someone got it for you and the thought behind it was a nice one, but it misses the mark a bit
- Gifts where it is apparent there has been no thought behind it at all
- Gifts where there has been some thought and it is not a very nice one
- Gifts where there has been some slightly unpleasant thought behind it and, somehow, the gift manages to also present a load of other problems for you that you could do without
These things all sit on a spectrum. In category 1, I’m thinking of the time my wife bought me a brilliant all-in-one, vintage-style music player. I hadn’t requested it or thought about it myself, but I still have it now and it remains great! In category 8, I’m reminded of the infamous time as a child someone decided to get me and my brother – wait for it – a free Sainsbury’s pen. Not only was that even less than an after thought, having decided I may as well get some use out of it now I’d got it, it went and leaked ink all over my school bag!
I am reminded of the Christmas episode of Frasier where he keeps trying to buy his son educational toys. I tried to find the clip of the episode that is most relevant but I couldn’t find it. But his father ends up saying that, at Christmas, it’s time to get people what they would actually like not what you think they ought to like. Nobody wants to get the present where people think, at least I can play with the packaging.
I’ve certainly had a few presents like that over the years. I suspect you probably have too. The things that people gave you because they thought you ought to like them: ‘a gourmet olive set, how thoughtful!’ Or, maybe the books you’ve been given because somebody thinks the thing is important and rather than thinking what you might like, they get you what they think you ought to believe instead.
I wonder, in the scale of presents, where you’d place Jesus? We Christians like to talk about God’s gift to us coming into the world. So, where does Jesus rank on the present scale?
I think Jesus really is the best gift because he sits happily in that prime slot. The first category. He is the present that I didn’t know I wanted until I got it. I had no thought for him, no interest in him, until I received him. He found me and, only when I received him, did I realise he was the greatest gift I could have hoped for.
Why is he the best gift? Because I know now what I didn’t know before. He is precisely what I needed even though, before I knew him, I had no clue it was what I needed. And I know now that I couldn’t manage without that gift.
I wonder how you view it?