December devotion: Preparing to giveReflection
Growing up, I felt bad for my grandparents, aunts and uncles on my dad’s side of the family. At Christmas, they each drew one name and received gifts from the one person who drew their name. Thankfully, the kids got gifts from everyone! I didn’t understand why the adults let this happen. Didn’t they want more packages to open on Christmas morning?
Twenty years later, I get it. That’s why I’m glad my family set a spending cap on gifts, this year and last year. I like the structure. This way, I don’t need to decide how much to spend or for whom to shop. I don’t worry about how much they’re spending on me. Instead, I focus on the gift and the recipient.
What would she enjoy? What do I want to share with him? Is there a book or a restaurant or a game that has brought me joy or new perspective this year that I can give to them?
The limit helps me focus on why I’m giving gifts in the first place. For me, it’s about anticipation and preparation during Advent. It’s about stepping into the year ahead with joy, gratitude and new life, and taking time to reflect on
what I have to share, all rooted in God’s abundant giving to us.
The limit also helps me remember that I shouldn’t put all my gift-giving thought and energy into one holiday. Rather, the preparation of Advent and gift giving of Christmas can be practice for the rest of the year. How can I give to my loved ones year-round? How can I be more attentive to their needs throughout the year and more eager to share when I find something they would enjoy?
How can I put the same thought and deliberation into my charitable giving, to give with joy and gratitude and focus on the needs of the organization, whether it is my congregation, Women of the ELCA or another organization?
How do you give gifts at Christmas? How does this influence the way you give year-round?
God of Advent, as we prepare to receive Jesus born into the world, prepare us for the holy work of giving and receiving in our families, our congregations, and our communities. Amen.
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.