When I was younger, I would lurk around the Christmas tree, waiting for my mother to turn her back, so I could shake the brightly colored packages under its boughs. Even now as a college senior, I can't help but wake up earlier than usual to see what was stuffed in my stocking or to rip the paper off a present to reveal the book I have been patiently waiting to read.
As much as I appreciate a thoughtful Christmas gift, that's not what this season is about. Christmas commemorates the coming of our Savior, the ultimate gift. Sure, we receive the blessings from his life on earth, but our acceptance of the gift of Christ is not what makes this holiday worth celebrating. We celebrate the remarkable circumstances surrounding the giving of Christ's life: God, himself, descended from heaven and assumed the form of man to give himself to us. Mary realized how remarkable the gift of Christ would be:
Mary knew she did not deserve what that the Lord had bestowed upon her. Good deeds or worldly possessions could not compare to the gift of Christ. We have been given the ultimate gift and for that reason, we give.
We sacrifice physical resources and time to respond to the extravagant love we have received. We know in our hearts that it is better to give than to receive, for that is the pattern of our Savior's life, and in our journey to mimic him, we will find joy. Kahlil Gibran, a Christian from Lebanon, knew this to be true, writing in The Prophet: