After Christmas, we are often prone to ask our friends and family “What did you get?” It’s a natural question; we’re curious to know what others received during the season of giving and receiving. But what about if we asked a different question? What would the response be?
I decided to ask a friend that question this year, someone in his mid-30s whom I have known for quite some time. He first asked me what I got for Christmas and I told him. Then I asked him what he got, and he told me.
I then decided to ask him something I had never asked anyone before: “What do you give this year?”
He proceeded to tell me the gifts he gave, but afterwards he said something that really stuck with me: “You know, no one has ever asked me that question before.”
I had to pause a moment to let that sink in.
Not one person had ever asked what he did to be generous during Christmas; no one had ever asked him what he did to bless other people. I found that to be a very sad thing.
I later talked to my wife about it. She said the same thing; no one had ever asked her what she gave this past Christmas. I thought to myself just how sad that is.
The Christmas season is about giving to others, not receiving from them. Just as God the Father so graciously and generously sent his Son to us in the form of a child, who would then die for the forgiveness of sins, we should be just as willing to give to others around us.
Yet when Christmas day has passed by, and we ease back into our regular lives, we evaluate what we received instead of what we gave. What does that say about the condition of our hearts?
Anyone can pay lip service to true Christmas spirit, say that they’re really excited to give gifts to their friends and family; but what do they say after the wrapping is off and they’ve had their fill of cookies and egg nog? What do they appreciate more?
Going forward, I’m going to be asking this question more often. If we think about what we give, it changes our perspective on the entire event. It transitions from being a selfish event to a generous one; an event that is about pouring into other people, rather than trying to hoard up things for ourselves.
Granted, there’s nothing wrong with liking what someone got you; please don’t get that impression. But what is the focus of our discussions and thoughts after Christmas? Consider the kinds of conversations you have with friends and family once you get back to everyday life.
Has anyone ever asked you what you gave this year?