I spent all of yesterday afternoon wrapping packages. It is, admittedly, my least favorite holiday task. This year was no different: Wrapping paper - check. Tags - check. Gifts - check. Tape - um, not so much, which is frustrating considering I can clearly remember buying a three-pack as I shopped, but there are about two dozen bags of unwrapped loot upstairs in my mom's apartment all conspiring to participate in assisting the tape in a winning round of hide-and-seek. But hey, Mom has tape (not that SHE can recall where she keeps it but I unpacked it and put it away when she moved here so I know where it is) and that roll keeps me going until I finally get to bag number twenty-two and find MY tape.
Two hospitalizations in November with three unexpected trips to Philadelphia put a bit of dent in the Christmas budget, along with factoring in the cost of the Cephaly (the anti-migraine nerve stimulator, not covered by insurance), which will be over $300 and will come out of next weeks' paycheck. I've been shopping very carefully, but it's a long list of people.
Every year since Babygirl became ill I've run up against that same basic issues - giving and loving are not the same. Dollar amounts and love amounts do not have anything to do with one another. Creativity matters to an exceptional degree. Kindness matters. Thoughtfulness matters. Love matters.
And when I consider finances I have to consider how blessed we truly are. Throughout all of this we have never been late on a mortgage payment (don't ask our electric and cable people what they think of us). We have not had to tap into our retirement funds (although we had to drop our contributions substantially for a time). We have not been hungry. We've been able to care for my mom. We've been able to rebuild a (small) emergency cushion and I've kept my hands out of that, although I might mentally be able to justify treating the cost of the Cephaly as an emergency expense.
It comes down to remembering why we are here, and why we do what we do. Every year I have to smack myself and remind myself that we give gifts to remind ourselves of the wise men who traveled for months searching for the new and living King. Through the beauty and blessing of this season it is all too easy to forget the purpose behind what we do.
So today we are going to get our Christmas tree. The usual arguments will reign about fat versus skinny, tall versus short, and we will come home with an obese tree that scrapes the ceiling and spend the day making beauty in honor of the coming of the Baby.
It's not the number of gifts, or their price tags. We can't rival the value of the Original Gift: We can only honor it.