Every year it’s the same question. I know the question is coming — “What do you want for Christmas?”
I never have an answer. It drives my wife crazy. The truth be known, that delights me a little bit. There have been years in which I have tried to put a list together. However, I have failed every year.
The root of my problem is quite simple. A while back I sorted out my wants and needs. My reality is that I have few “needs” that are unattended. The “wants”, by definition, are not really necessary. Therefore, I am content. That contentment leaves me in a very uncomplicated place. That is not to say there are not things I would like to have — there are. However, the having or not having does not matter.
The most precious gifts I have ever received are attached to moments in which someone — lover, friend or stranger — has reached out and reminded me that we are not alone. The gentle touch of a stranger in the hospital as I waited for my wife to come out of the operating room after a miscarriage. Tears shared with a friend when a marriage ended. The trust and confidence shining in my wife’s eyes as we decided to move to the North Island. The joy shared at the birth of our three sons.
The list can go on. Hopefully, and I believe it is so, the most precious gifts I have given come from the same place. The heart.
For me, this season is a celebration of relationship, not things. Of needs, not wants. We need healthy relationships based on trust, love, grace, compassion, sharing, comfort, truth, mercy, dignity, respect, delight, courage, praise, pride, support, validation … the list goes on. Truth be known, I do not remember many material gifts.
A suggestion: This year, give gifts from the heart. Take the time to celebrate the joyful, loving relationships you have with words written with your own hand. The treasures that fill my treasure chest are words from people I love who took the time to tell me how precious I am to them and the importance of me in their lives.
There is a high point which comes for me every Christmas. It arrives when all the services are complete and the building is empty. I sit alone with the symbols of the season and exhale a deep breath. I stop to reflect on why this day has come to mean so much to me. Of all the gifts the one most precious to me is the knowledge that I am not alone. That knowledge is witnessed to in the relationships we have and also in the still quiet of a Christmas Eve night alone — yet not lonely.
Reverend Wade Allen ministers to the North Vancouver Island Anglican/United community in Port McNeill, Port Alice and Port Hardy. firstname.lastname@example.org