What to Give

It’s that time of year – deciding who to buy for, how much to spend, and what will be communicated by our gift. With our great recession sticking around like a bad cold, deciding what to spend might be more difficult. We may not have the ability to exchange with friends and family as freely as in the past. And if you’re dating, the question is both is there going to be an exchange and how much to spend. But, there is help. Just when we need it, the perfect solution presents itself. That ever so simple, so easy, so convenient option – the “gift card” found on the rack at your local grocery store – can seem like the perfect option. And for many people, especially if you know their favorite store or restaurant, a gift card will fit the ease of the relationship. But what about for others – those that you want to communicate something more?
It may be that the reduction in “disposable income” will end up being a good thing for our culture. For one, it forces us to consider what else we have to give. In fact, the only thing that Christ asks of us is to give – to give of our “self.” The “self” that we put at the center of our lives much too easily. The “self” that many times is focused on our list of things to do or accomplish, instead of how we may be a blessing to others.
So this year, giving of our self may mean giving our time and our service to those people in our life – our friends, our family, and our church. For friends, in addition to that gift card, we can include a hour of running errands or babysitting. Or it may just be time together. A round of golf or getting a manicure – together. A few years back my group of friends decided to stop exchanging gifts and start exchanging time – a Christmas brunch with just “us.” A place we can talk, linger, and just enjoy catching up. When it comes to family, a full hour of your time may be the most precious gift. And how about our church? As singles, you are positioned to offer the most precious gift of time and talent. How can you help the ministries to the poor? How can you reach out to those that may be alone at the holidays? Or reaching out to other singles? Your pastor is almost always looking for people who are wiling to help in lay ministry.
What about your new date? You already spend time together, so how can you give a gift that communicates the right amount of care with the appropriate amount of involvement? Is your date a “card” person? Many times a special card can hit that sweet spot – meaning, it doesn’t matter exactly what the gift is – as long as the card shares words from the heart. If the relationship is very early, like only a few dates, a card may be the perfect option. Does he or she have a great sense of humor? Then a funny card that expresses how much you enjoy hanging out might just fit the bill. A Mass card might also be the perfect way to show your date that you are thinking of them and want to include their intentions in prayer.
No matter what you decide to give this year, remember that we are blessed beyond measure –we have the great gift of our faith. As the reason for the season, we can look to the message of the Gospel to understand what to give to others – not just the right gift, but by showing our love of neighbor, of friend, of church, and of family, by giving of our “self” and from our heart.