Confession: I am a bit of an anthropology nerd. Not an expert by any means, but I do find all forms of anthropology fascinating, particularly cultural and linguistic anthropology. The evolution and relationship of language and how it is affected by culture is amazing. It’s hard not to be charmed by the distinctions and semantics of each language and translations. (Like I said, nerd alert!) Grammar and syntax are similarly interesting. And yes, I am that friend that will correct her own texts when there’s a typo. ☺
But I digress.
In English, we have the irregular verb, “give”, that covers an array of connotations and is usually, but not always, associated with positive things.
We gave our children their names.
A friend may have given you a link to this blog. (Thanks, friend!)
My husband always gives me a kiss when he gets home from work.
My children can give me their colds. (Which they did, by the way. I sound like Barry White. Thanks, littles!)
See what I mean?
My favorite part of my favorite Holiday is giving gifts. There are a ton of ways to give, and just as many reasons to do so. But for the sake of time, (and to keep it festive,) let’s keep it to a dozen.
1. Events 1. Events
Every year for Christmas, my husband asks me for one thing – lift tickets for skiing. I married an outdoorsy man, and it should come as no surprise that what he wants for Christmas is to be on a freezing mountain, wearing uncomfortable “boots”, and paying a ton of money to possibly break an arm.
I actually love skiing too, so I’m joking here.
The point is; my husband doesn’t like tangible items, he likes events and adventure. He likes getting out of the house and doing things.
So tell me;
2. Memories 2. Memories
Just before Christmas, I order Christmas pajamas and gingerbread house kits for everyone. On Christmas morning, we gather around our tree in our matching pajamas while we laugh, play, and open our presents and stockings. Then we all make terrible unique looking gingerbread houses and there’s a contest. It’s so much fun, and most importantly, my girls love it.
It isn’t about the pajamas or the
overwhelming amounts of sugar gingerbread house, but the tradition and feelings we get of being a part of something fun and irreplaceable. Memories that leave a lasting legacy.
3. Entertainment 3. Entertainment
What about for people you don’t know? (I love awkward Secret Santa gift shopping!)
Well, you might consider the “Entertainment” way of giving.
My children prefer this type for now – the wooden kitchen toys, the coloring books, the electric Polar Express train set, the dress up clothes… etc… anything that keeps them from being bored during our exceptionally wet winters here in the PNW.
I also like giving a good book or movie to a friend. Something light that will make them laugh or they can lose themselves in when times are stressful. I’ve given subscriptions to Netflix, a well-rated video game, and once, (to a fellow Anglophile) a Benedict Cumberbatch themed coloring book. It’s easier if you know just a little about the receiver, but things like board games, cards, and Mad Libs are great and easy to find.
4. Charity 4. Charity
I love the new trend of giving a charity gift card. Instead of buying something for themselves, the recipients can choose a charity that they appreciate and give the gift amount to them. Brilliant! This is such a great way to give to someone who doesn’t need anything. It’s thoughtful, kind, and it benefits others.
Donating food, warm clothing/shoes, and money to a specific charity for someone are also great options! I know I’m a little biased here, but my favorite charity is AFFEO. I adore how we are working to help Bianca and Denisa to become adopted by their loving foster parents this Holiday Season.
5. Beauty/Creativity 5. Beauty/Creativity
Do you have a creative side? Painting, knitting, crochet, song composition, photography, story writing… you name it! These are all fantastic ways to show friendship and affection.
I’m blown away by the time and effort anyone puts into making something so beautiful for me. And sometimes, they don’t even make it themselves – Etsy and local farmer’s markets are great ways to find homemade personalized gifts. (In fact, I got the girls knitted ear warmers this year. They are pink (the favorite color), sparkly (of course), and look like crowns! I’m so excited to see them wear these.
6. Knowledge 6. Knowledge
I wish “Student” could be a career choice in the same way that “Doctor” and “Secretary” are.
Some of my favorite gifts have been Rosetta Stone subscriptions, classes, and non-fiction books. (Read: textbooks. There. I’ve done it again. Nerd.) If knowledge is power, then studying is reigning. And as someone who binges period dramas, this makes me feel like royalty!
Well, that was an embarrassing admission. Moving on…
7. Service 7. Service
So, I’ve already told you the story of my father-in-law and the Christmas lights in my Intro Video. Have I told you about my mother-in-law’s cooking? She’s good. And one of the most selfless gifts I can think of, aside from charity, of course, is service. Last year, she gave me a list of meals that she makes really well and told me to pick 5 from them. Then, once a week for 5 weeks, she brought over dinner. I am a stay-at-home mother. I am nearly always cooking or feeding someone. It was a wonderful break.
Service can really be anything that you do out of love or kindness for someone else – even complete strangers! You could serve food at a homeless shelter, volunteer to clean up a little old lady’s yard or cook meals for someone you don’t know that has just had a baby.
8. Medicine/Health 8. Medicine/Health
Once, when I worked in a hospital, I had a cancer patient that was dying. In spite of his terminal illness, he had the best attitude. He considered himself blessed, and in a way, he truly was. His wife would come in every day; they would play games, read books, watch movies, and giggle like teenagers at silly articles in magazines. She would often bring him lunch or dinner since he didn’t like the hospital food. (Who does?) And then he would insist that she go home when it was late and get a good sleep there. (Which she almost never did.)
I don’t think I understood how much of a gift my good health was until then. I realized how lucky I am in the US to have access to treatments, essential oils, vaccines, good doctors and nurses, etc…
I hope to be a Midwife one day, and I would love to occasionally volunteer my skills with a local charity to help soon-to-be mothers that don’t have insurance. Until then, when I have the time and no littles with me, (gosh, that would be chaos…) I like giving blood or plasma to Blood Donation Centers.
What about you;
9. Nature 9. Nature
Another great way to give is with nature. Flowers, while old-fashioned and simple, would go a long way in my family, and I once gave my mother a rose bush and trellis to plant. It didn’t live long… but she loved it. I’m pretty sure she even named it. Funny enough, I don’t think she was particularly sad when it did die, but I know she thought of it as one of the best gifts I’d ever given her, which makes me smile.
I also like the idea of having a tree or blue hydrangeas (her favorite) planted in her honor, now that she has passed away. I think it would bring her happiness to know that I would think of her every time I saw it.
10. Time 10. Time
Ahhhh, the gift of time. Babysitting for free so your daughter-in-law can go out for the first time in months, calling on sick friends in the hospital or at their house, visiting with an elderly lady at a local nursing home, or just spending time with your slightly sick and attention-seeking small ones even though you know you have a blog that is overdue…
Time is unlike any other gift – we can’t buy it, replace it, get it back, or slow it down. We have the phrase, “make time”, but unfortunately, we can’t actually create more time. So, to spend your time on anyone is literally giving them a small part of your life that you can’t get back. This is what makes it such a great gift – it shows that you value someone deeply; that they are worth seconds/minutes/hours/days/etc of your life.
It really puts a whole new perspective on that word, doesn’t it?
11. Food/Drinks 11. Food/Drinks
My Godmother (Who isn’t my actual Godmother, but I call her that because “my-mother’s-really-close-friend-that-has-known-me-since-I-was-born-and-while-my-mother-was-pregnant-with-me-and-feels-like-family-but-isn’t-actually-related-to-me-in-anyway friend” is quite a mouthful.) sent us some steaks, baked potatoes, and veggies last year for Christmas. It’s fantastic. Not only did I not have to cook once a week, (Remember my Mother-in-law’s gift??) but I didn’t even have to go grocery shopping!
Best. January. Ever.
I think gift cards to coffee shops and teahouses are marvelous, and heck, so is just a bag of great coffee or a bin of tea.
Speaking of tea… I love tea. All the teas! Every Christmas and birthday that flies by, someone gets me a bin of tea. Usually loose leaf, sometimes bagged, and occasionally they include some tea accessories, but I am enamored with this simple gift. And it’s not really something most people would think of if they didn’t know me, which makes me feel very loved, indeed.
12. Life 12. Life
The last way of giving is the gift of life.
The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and there are 3 Classic Greek words for life in it:
- Bios – As in Biology. This is the physical life of the body.
- Psyche – As in Psychology. It refers to the emotion and will of the human psychological life. The soul, if you will.
- Zoe – It means the eternal and divine life. The uncreated life of God.
Although the Gospel of John doesn’t cover the Nativity, it does clearly go through incredible lengths to show us that Christ is God and is from God, and poetically describes his heavenly “birth”. His account is beautiful and descriptive. He is very intentional and communicates with passion in explaining that God is the beginning, having made and being in everything and that there is nothing without God, or existing without God’s creation of it. Using the word Zoe, he then writes in John 1:4;
In him life was and the life was the light of men
En auto zoe en kai he zoe en to phos ton anthropon
ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων
The divine and eternal life of God was in God and that same divine and eternal life of God was the light of men. Got it.
Then, later, he uses Zoe again and writes in John 10:10, quoting Jesus;
…I came that they may have life and may have it abundantly
…Ego elthon hina zoen echosin kai perisson echosin
… ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσι καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν
I came that they might have divine and eternal life and have it abundantly.
Life is sacred. Life is the breath that God blew into Adam’s nostrils. It is the soul and spirit of our bodies. It is the light of humanity. It is what the begotten Son of God would give up for us and for our salvation, and it is the essence of God that was in him that made him capable of being our savior in the first place. Life is our very existence, now and forever.
What a beautiful, infinite, and mysterious gift.
Merry Christmas, to you, my friends! May God bless you and yours.
Looking forward to the next time,