Christmas is about extravagance. But do we really know what extravagant Christmas gifts look like? I watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last night. It premiered 52 years ago which means I've watched it at least 52 times. When it premiered in 1965, I am sure I watched it in black and white. Today, in vivid color, it reminds me of my dad.
Lucy appoints Charlie Brown to be the Director of the Christmas play. In the midst of chaos, Charlie Brown raises his head (I’d say chin, but he doesn’t have one) and shouts, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus says, “Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” He moves to center stage and says, “Lights please.” The house lights are lowered and a spot light shines on Linus as all the Peanuts characters look on. He is about to explain what extravagant Christmas gifts look like.
The Real Meaning of Christmas
“And there in the same country were shepherds…and on earth peace and good will toward men.” The scene is the best part of the show. Christmas has always been a time for reflection. Everyone has experiences and memories that remind them of Christmas—some good and some not so good.
My dad loved Christmas. He passed away 14 years ago on December 3. That Christmas in 2003 was the first Christmas we did not spend together since our oldest son Matthew was born. The picture in this post is our family in 1997—its the way I like to remember my dad.
What’s On Your Christmas List
My dad was impossible to shop for. He never responded to requests for gift suggestions. My dad's actions communicated he was content with the real meaning of Christmas.
He was most interested in gifts that never wear out, never break and our 100% guaranteed to bring joy to the giver and receiver. They never go on sale, can’t be purchased on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. But they are extravagant Christmas gifts because they change hearts and inspire goodness.
The Ten Most Extravagant Christmas Gifts
If I were to put my dad's Christmas gift list together it would be characterized by extravagance.
#1 - Thanks
Give the gift of thanks. Saying “Thank you” is so simple and too often simply forgotten. We don’t say thank you often enough. Too commonly you hear, “No problem,” instead of “Thank you.” A simple heart-felt, thank-you is so powerful.
#2 - Encouragement
Give the gift of encouragement. We have all been gifted with unique talents. When you share the gift of encouragement you are helping someone unlock the best of who they are. Look for the good in others and encourage them to do their best.
#3 - Patience
Give the gift of patience. Everyone seems to be in such a hurry these days. Why do we make the unimportant and unnecessary urgent? We too often become frustrated and even angry with others resulting in hurt feelings and damaged relationships.
#4 - Forgiveness & Grace
Give the gift of forgiveness and grace. Grace is the heart of Christmas. We all make mistakes and have all been hurt by the mistakes or transgressions of others. How many times would you have relished hearing, I forgive you? How many times should you have said, I’m sorry?
#5 - Presence
Give the gift of presence. The one thing we all start each day with is 24 hours. Time may be the only resource that is truly equal amongst us. How we spend it reflects our priorities. Be fully present with the people you love and lead.
#6 - Knowledge and Wisdom
Give the gift of knowledge and wisdom. My dad loved his grandson’s. He loved to listen to them and answer their questions. I can now see how much he taught them and how much they have missed not having him around. I now realize how much he taught me. Someone needs the gift of your wisdom.
#7 - Love
Give the gift of love. We all need it, want it, and don’t get enough of it. Love is the reason and meaning of Christmas. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” God gave us the gift of love in Jesus to share.
#8 - Smile
Give the gift of a smile. The smile is the universal currency of the world. You can change attitudes, engagement and performances with a smile. It costs nothing to give, and takes fewer muscles and energy than a frown—smile
#9 - Kindness and Compassion
Give the gift of kindness and compassion. The first time my dad showed me where he grew up, I was overwhelmed by the poverty. At the time, I wondered how someone with so little could be so kind and compassionate. He had a true appreciation for the value of people, and I once watched him give the last dollars in his wallet to a complete stranger who clearly was in need.
#10 - Prayer
Give the gift of prayer. Prayers are unstoppable. ”Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” When we pray for people something valuable and important always happens.
The Great Paradox of Extravagant Christmas Gifts
What’s on your Christmas gift list this year. The most extravagant Christmas gifts are the gifts of legacy and memories that live on in the hearts and minds of the people we love and lead. They are also the gifts that inspire hearts and lift the spirits of people we encounter every day.
The great paradox of gift giving—priceless and free!