Holiday Gift Idea 15 (My True Meaning of Christmas)

withchild.jpgBeing that today is Sunday, and as a Christian, my 2nd to last gift idea will be religiously themed:

Christmas, after all, is a celebration of Christ’s birth; that “the Word was made flesh,” as John wrote. It is a celebration of the great step in God’s plan for the salvation and redemption of man.

I blogged earlier this year that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of its gift-less gratitude, and in recent years I have been the “scrooge” of the family, poo-pooing the materialism and gimme attitude that seemed to accompany each holiday season. Perhaps it was because of the poverty I experience in Brazil, or maybe it was just because I couldn’t ever seem to come up with an idea for any present anyone could give me that I would actually enjoy receiving.

Today, I have changed my mind. Christmas, I have decided, would be incomplete without the gift giving. I believe that gift giving in the correct way is critical to achieving the “true spirit of Christmas.”

Why do I say this when gifts seem to be the most prevalant evidence of the “commercialism” of this season? (Which I still think is a problem.)

I have come to a realization that true gift giving is not simply a celebration of the bounty of the year. It’s not fulfilling each other’s needs and wants. It’s not being surprised or thrilled on Christmas morning. It’s not giving to charities or causes to feel better about ourselves, or get a break on the imminent tax return. It’s not about waking up early and seeing what the ‘haul’ is this year.

Gifts, at the most basic level, are tangible expressions we make one toward another. Some gifts express romance (think of the jewelry commercials), others express friendliness. Some we give in hopes to receive reciprocal gifts, and yet others we give to show our creativity or to see the look of surprise on the recipient’s face.

The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas didn’t start with the 3 wise guys who travelled from a long way hauling precious metals and spices, as many would ascribe it to. The tradition of giving begins in John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

God was the first to give a gift at Christmas time. The gift he gave was his Son. The motive behind the gift was love.

Christ then grew and fulfilled his mission. He gave the greatest gift of all, his expiating sacrifice, which inexplicably and miraculously pays for our human flaws, drawing us back to God and his perfection.

These two gifts, gifts of true love, are gifts of self.

So this year at Christmas, consider giving an extra gift; give back to God the one thing we have to give, the only thing doesn’t come from Him in the first place and is truly ours to give; your will. Give something of yourself, your time, your life over to him. He promises that ‘he who loses his life for [His] sake will find everlasting life.’

…and it’s true.

Holiday Gift Idea 14

Well, we are into the 3 final days of shopping before Christmas. I am now all done with my shopping, and I’ll be avoiding stores as much as possible between now and January 1st.

However, if you are one of the unlucky few who still have gifts left to purchase, can I make a few final suggestions:

  1. Stay away from Wal-mart at all costs.
  2. Don’t go to Wal-mart no matter what.
  3. Keep away from any store named Wal-mart.

Thank you and goodnight.

Holiday Gift Idea 13

Magic 13 is a special one.  It’s not a gift, per se.  It’s more of a concept…



I know this can be taboo, but what else are you going to do with all the stuff you get that you don’t want?  I suppose if the person was “modern” enough to include a gift receipt, you can return it for the cash, but then when you have to turn around and find a gift for someone else, you have to put in all this thought and effort..

All that gets easier with re-gifting. Not only do you save money, and give life to sometihng you would never use or don’t care for, you also save yourself the pain and agony of having to THINK about another gift.

Dreams and Dirty Bathrooms

I had a dream last night that some major VIP came to my house and used the bathroom. I can’t even remember who it was, but I know I felt embarrassed because I haven’t cleaned my bathroom in a few weeks. So now I guess I need to put on my to do list “clean bathrooms” before I leave town tomorrow…

One time I had a dream that someone very close to me died. I woke up very sad. It was a scary, freaky, realistic dream.

Usually I have totally forgotten the dreams of the previous night by the time I exit my ‘post-waking haze,’ and definitely by the time I get out of the shower. I think most of the time that is a good thing. Many dreams I have qualify as twisted, freaky night terrors than as anything at all ‘dreamy.’

I think I need my head examined.

Holiday Gift Idea 10

Rounding out the list at #10 is one of my perrenial favorites…


A gift basket!

Just remember, when you don’t know what to get someone, nothing says “I love you” quite like a bunch of junk food.

You can easily and cheaply make your own gift baskets.  And don’t put in all that expensive stuff that no one knows or likes.  Get the yummy cheap candy that’s on sale, and then buy a basket that’s one size smaller than you think you’ll need.  Then it will look like it’s overflowing!

Also prerequisite in EVERY gift basket is Easy Cheese.

To go along with this one, I’m lumping in “the Panettone.”


Also known as the ‘holiday fruit cake,’ this is a perennial favorite for some, but hated by most.  News flash: they are making less nasty versions of this now.   Try the ones with chocolate chips or other things than fruit.

The Miracle of Church Music

23421322.jpgRecently I was called to be the choir director for my local church congregation. (In my church, all such positions are filled by volunteers from the congregation)

This seemed like a nice fit. I have sung in choirs all my life. I have had music lessons since I was eight. I have sung under some pretty awesome conductors in my life, and done it on all levels and gradations of professionalism.

However, none of those experiences quite matched what happened to me today. Today, for the first time in my life, I took the “baton” (there was no baton, i’m speaking figuratively) and conducted my first choir performance.

I have decided conducting is much more scary than performing.

When you conduct, you have to keep yourself from singing, but you have to mouth the words so everyone else can rely on you for them. It’s hard to do, especially on pieces you have sung before. I even caught myself singing once during a women only part, too. That really quite awkward, the one lone male voice…

Then there’s the anxiety… What if no one shows up to sing?  What if I miss bringing someone in? What if I’m taking it too fast or too slow? What if the whole thing falls apart? What if the ceiling collapses from the natural vibrations of our double or triple forte!!! (the possibilities are endless)

Well the miracle of Church choir is that it just works out. In some strange way, and for some strange unknown reason, it just works out in the end. You always wonder how it will, when you’re two weeks away and you have 6 people (four altos and 2 guys) show up at your second to last rehearsal, but it just works out.

To illustrate the miracle even more, at one point someone asked me during our warm-up/rehearsal time if I had an extra piece of a music for the song we were singing. I was sure I was out, but I moved my piece to the side, and !voila! behind it was another one. It was almost like a “loaves and fishes” moment. “It’s a Christmas miracle!” I exclaimed.

And it was.