Joy, because the first Christmas gifts were not reciprocal

Nativity scene

It did not happen like this:

Joseph: Mary, the wise men are on their way, and they’re all carrying something.

Mary: Carrying something? What could that be?

Joseph: I’m not sure, but one of them has something shiny. I think it’s gold.

Mary: Gold! Oh, no! But I didn’t get anything for them. Do we have something under the manger we can wrap up quickly?

You know the scenario: Someone you don’t usually exchange gifts with appears before you with a brightly wrapped Christmas gift. She beams with joy, because she has found the perfect thing. She saw it, thought of you and knew that you had to have it.

Do you receive the gift with unqualified gratitude? Or do you think, “Oh, no! I don’t have anything for her”?

We don’t know what exactly happened that first Christmas, but I like to I imagine that, if gifts were brought to the new baby, Mary and Joseph received everything with grace and gratitude. To do otherwise would have deprived the wise visitors of the joy of giving.

This Christmas, when someone beams with joy as they present you that perfect something bought out of love, receive it with unqualified joy and gratitude.

The joy of giving doesn’t depend on the joy of receiving.

Advent Wreath with candles for Hope, Peace and Joy lit.

6 thoughts on “Joy, because the first Christmas gifts were not reciprocal

  1. marianbeaman

    Arlene, your post stopped me in my tracks. Oh, my! I feel so gratified when I give a gift and happy when my present brings joy. It’s harder for me to receive something, but I realize there is grace in receiving, one I need to cultivate and practice.

    Thanks for sharing the idea of the joy in receiving. Of course, the Christ Child is the best gift of all!

    Blessings and Christmas Cheer, my friend.

  2. Kathryn

    I had never thought of it that way, Arlene, but you’re absolutely right. I’ve been in both those situations before: like Mary, fumbled for a reciprocal gift, but also the person who bought a gift for someone because it was perfect even though we didn’t normally exchange gifts, but then felt awkward when they felt awkward. Simply sharing the joy in giving or receiving would be so much easier and … joyful!

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Interestingly, I find it easier to give an unreciprocated gift at any time of the year other than Christmas. In December, people get that deer in the headlights look almost immediately. In spring, summer or fall, they receive what you offer with heartfelt appreciation, and accept that you bought it because you saw it and thought of them. It’s another way Christmas makes things very complicated!


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