As we dive head-on on into the season of giving, finding that perfect gift seems to be on everyone’s mind. We listen closer to our friends for clues about their latest wishes and wants. We smile as we hear children get excited about the possibility of the presents they have waited and longed for. We spend ample amounts of time trying to pick out the perfect thing to give to forty-two people. We know that a well-chosen gift can send just the right message of friendship or love to someone and we all want to get it right.
So, on a chilly December day, I sat checking over my list of friends and family and listening to my random Christmas music playlist, and a familiar song began to play. It was a song I had not heard since high school, but I knew it by heart, since it had been a piece handpicked for me by my chorus teacher for the state vocal competitions. The words about freedom and simple gifts played out into the room, giving me pause from all my busy gift picking plans to just sit a moment and reflect on a far away time when life seemed easier, and my worries included my dress for prom and making curfew on a Friday night. The song "Simple Gifts" drifted across my ears as I remembered a time when I really didn’t have much money to buy gifts from my small-town, after-school job, so when I wanted to give someone something, it had to be simple. The only things I had to give were my time, my words, and my heart. Simple.
I am thankful now that I have been so blessed to be able to pick out the perfect wish list item for a friend or gift a long-awaited want to someone I love. But some days I wonder if we are not overlooking the real gift . . . the real joy of giving . . . by not recognizing that sometimes the best thing we could give someone in this busy, on-the-go world is a simple gift. Our time, our words, our heart.
Lord, remind me that the real gifts are often the simplest ones. Let my gifts be simple. Let each one of them be straight from the heart. May we all give like broke high school dreamers who are thankful for our family and friends.