A friend told me recently that she had found the perfect gift for her husband, who is a wonderful cook. It is a cookbook that has just come out. All of the recipes are by chefs who are immigrants, and all of the proceeds help to advocate for immigrants and refugees to this country. Her husband is passionate about the recipes and the cause.
It is, indeed, the perfect gift.
I think about this sometimes: the perfect gift. It's the one that I want to give. The exact perfect gift: the thing that you would never ask for, but want, nevertheless. The perfect gift is not the one that is on the list of "things you want for Christmas" (although they are good too.) The perfect gift isn't necessarily expensive. Being pricey isn't what makes it perfect. It might be small, or it might be large. It just fits the person, perfectly. It is something they want, without knowing it.
One year I gave everyone in the family scarves for Christmas. They weren't terribly difficult to make, but it was more time-consuming than I thought it would be. I'm not sure they were exactly the "perfect" gifts, but I wanted to give something that had a little bit of myself in it, so I knitted all these scarves. One of them I just barely finished before the 4:00 service on Christmas Eve. I'm actually not sure it was long enough, even now.
I want to give the perfect gift to everyone every year, but, to be truthful, I'm not sure I hit the mark that often. I remember thinking I had something good for my mom one year, the year that my dad died. Then my mom opened the Christmas present from my niece and nephew, pictures of them when they are small, put in a frame. And she cried. And I knew that they had given the perfect gift.
This is the season of gift-giving, and there are times that my heart just wants to give something to everyone. Toys for children! Books for everyone! Something hand-made! Then there are other times when it just seems overwhelming, and I wish I could be content with Grace. Just the gift of life, of other people. Just the gift of laughter, tears, someone who will not abandon you. Just the gift of the herald angels singing, Glory to the newborn king, the gift of candles glowing, the gift of the silent night, the gift of the baby, joy to the world.
He was not what we asked for, not what we wanted, or at least, not what we think we wanted. In the end we rejected him, in one way or another. He is a baby who will create peace, and make a lot of trouble. He will bring new life, in a world that mostly wants to stay the same.
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His Heaven.
No hear may hear his coming
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in.