Gift Opening Anxiety

Christmas can be an absolutely magical time of the year. There is nothing quite like going on a Christmas lights tour with holiday music playing, or maybe snacking on a few (dozen) Christmas cookies, or maybe even tuning in for one of the greatest traditions of all time when “A Christmas Story” is played for 24 hours straight on TBS. But for all the magic, there is one aspect of Christmas for which I have to mentally prepare every. single. year. It is something that despite the holiday cheer and joy, is a source of great discomfort and anxiety for me. The source of that holiday dread…is opening gifts in front of people. More specifically, opening a gift in front of the person that gave me said gift.
That is a very specific, awkward, and vulnerable confession, and let me make it VERY clear that it has nothing to do with gratitude; I will be so unbelievably thankful for WHATEVER it is. It could very well be the single greatest present that I have EVER received, but the mental gymnastics I unwillingly go through beforehand drags my heart and throat right down to my stomach. I hope I’m not alone in this, but when I open a gift in front of the gift-giver, instead of focusing on the humbling notion that someone thought of me for Christmas, I start overthinking on what my response is going to be. So much so, that the gift becomes a mysterious blob in my hands. What if I sound sarcastic or ungrateful?? What if I go, “Wooooooow, how neat is that?” in a way that makes them think I don’t mean it?? Conversely, what if I go too big and start weeping and kissing their feet, to which they just say, “Dude it was an oven mitt, calm down.” What if they think I’m not happy? What if they think I’m not genuine?? How in the world am I supposed to measure out my physical response at an appropriate conversion rate for whatever the gift was?!
I wonder if I’ve done the same thing concerning Christ. This season, we celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given to mankind. Wrapped in cloths, and born in the lowliest state possible, the life-giving and salvation-bringing Messiah came to earth. How in the world are you supposed to respond to that? We are so far beyond “Woooow, how neat is that?” and even so far beyond the weeping and kissing of his feet. How can we show enough gratitude? How could we fathom the goodness of what this means?? Luckily, in this case, we have that exact “conversion rate.” Christ gave up his life to die, so we could give up our lives to live. That is our response. Don’t overthink. Don’t go too small. Give him everything, as He gave everything for you. Humbly accept that gift, and realize that someone thought of you for Christmas, in a way that will change you forever. There’s no way to go “too big” for a gift like that.
Merry Christmas!
Caleb Smith, Pulpit Minister

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