If you are hesitant about gifts for loved ones this Christmas, you are in good company. Not only are many people having problems choosing gifts, but they also wonder if they can even find them with our upside-down supply chains. We are used to the abundance of well-stocked shelves and massive sales promotions, not the shortage economy that emerged from the pandemic.
Problems in health, economy and public policy compound the market uncertainty. Thus, gifts this Christmas should somehow reflect this need for certainty. Fads, electronics or superficial gifts should especially (and perhaps always) be avoided. The security of something transcendental speaks much more for our day.
The Uncertainty of the First Christmas
We are used to the security of Christmases past. Those warm memories of sweetness and innocence transmit the calm, confidence and well-being that emanated from the Divine Infant in the manger in Bethlehem on that holy and silent night.
However, the Christ Child did not enjoy the security we usually experienced. The Holy Family was not at home but traveling and forced into the uncertainty of the lowly stable where Christ was born. This Christmas, we are thrust into our own uncertainties. This calls upon us to confide in God’s Providence to secure for us the needed blessings for the times ahead.
Thus, let our gifts be enduring and endearing. Let them help us embrace the suffering of uncertain times. They should be imaginative gifts that strengthen our resolve to fight the good fight for our culture.
Endearing Gifts to Connect Us to Loved Ones
My first suggestion is to give something that will connect us with our loved ones. It should be a gift of self that is not found in the shopping mall or digital platforms. It should be something of value that reflects permanency and stability.
Thus, my idea would be to give endearing objects that are the work of human hands. Something of the warm touch and good intentions will always remain in those sewn or knitted objects that are given with great affection. Furniture or crafted objects made with great care express consideration for those who will receive them. Indeed, even a painting, poem or jewelry piece, fruits of creative minds, will find its way into the heart of those who love beauty.
Those not endowed with talents that would allow them to make such things might buy handcrafted items. The fact that these are one-of-a-kind things makes them special and endearing. Our efforts to find objects beyond the Black Friday specials show we are willing to go the extra mile to manifest our affection for loved ones.
Endearing objects connect us to those we love. They communicate the security of relationships that no one can take from us.
Amid the present insecurity, endearing objects are not enough. Our desire for certainties must also be addressed by turning to the things that feed the soul. We must turn to enduring ideas to anchor us in the storms ahead.
Thus, in our quest for books this year, we might (and perhaps should always) forego the latest bestseller, novel and other trendy titles. We require those enduring ideas that never grow old.
For this reason, I would recommend classic non-fiction books that contain reassuring truths for our times of uncertainty. These might include the security of the crystalline philosophical logic found in selected works of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine and other classical philosophers. We might explore the ancient wisdom of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Their lofty yet simple considerations will elevate our minds to God. Devotional materials and Biblical commentaries can further provide needed sustenance in times of spiritual famine.
Biographies of certainty-filled role models are also helpful since such individuals personified enduring truths. There are many to choose from: Henry the Navigator, General George S. Patton, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, Isabella of Spain, Samuel de Champlain, Father Pierre De Smet, Vasco da Gama, Col. John W. Ripley, Ernest Shackleton, El Cid and so many others.
These are serious books that the times demand. Not all are easy reads, but we can find selections and editions adapted to our reading propensities. The important thing is to feed our needs for certainties with ancient wisdom. We need to reinforce the idea that others have grappled with existential questions in the past that will help us confront the future.
An Enlightening Symbol
A final gift suggestion may seem contrary to the joyful spirit of Christmas, but it is appropriate for the times. I would suggest the enlightening symbol of the Cross. The joyous scene in Bethlehem contained many tragic elements that foreshadowed something of the suffering that Christ would endure for our sake. It is then proper that this Christmas have a note of the Cross amid our joy.
The Cross is the sure and secure way to our salvation. It explains our lives in this vale of tears. It can be a source of consolation and strength when uncertainly comes upon us. We can easily have recourse to the Divine Savior to help us bear our crosses.
Thus, the gift might be a simple wooden cross, a crucifix or a piece of jewelry. Let it remind us of our fallen state and how we are saved. I am convinced that such a gift can give us needed courage. Symbols like the Cross put before our eyes that supernatural world that is unseen. It also has the added benefit of allowing us to bear witness to our Christian convictions in an increasingly hostile world.
An Invitation to Confide
These are my gift suggestions for someone who may have every material thing but now senses how precarious it all is. By these considerations, this Christmas can be more like that first Christmas, full of material uncertainties and dangers.
Such gifts are an invitation to stop and ponder the vanity of worldly interests and embrace the eternal and permanent things. Above all, we can confide in Christ our Savior, the indomitable rock of all certainties.
Photo Credit: © Pasko Maksim – stock.adobe.com