By Jenny Baxter, Tasmanian State Manager Operation Christmas Child

How’s your Christmas shopping coming along? To be honest I am not one of those early-Christmas-shopper types. I’m usually still waiting for inspiration to arrive in those last few hectic weeks. Generally I am pretty organised, but it’s something I can only aspire to at Christmas. I think the only time I have ever been fully prepared was the year I was expecting a December baby!

One of my struggles, aside from knowing what to buy for everyone, is wondering why on earth I am doing it. Why do I spend all this time and effort (not to mention cash) buying things for people who already have more than most people in the world? Every year I am increasingly aware of our abundance, even within my own home. This is in contrast with the poverty experienced by so many millions in other countries. Last year by the time I received the third large and heavy present I began to wonder why I needed it, especially as it had to be airlifted back home to Hobart. In the end we left a bagful of items at the in-laws’ place to collect later.

I do understand and value the sentiment involved with gift giving. The symbolism of Christmas gifts reflects that I am known, loved and appreciated by family members. I also recognise that gifts received, and given, are like those gifts presented to Jesus by the wise men. It’s not that I am being ungrateful, but more that I am confused about why it is I should be responsible for increasing how much ‘stuff’ is owned by those near and dear to me.

Perhaps that’s why I delay my shopping. I am living with questions, and perhaps guilt, yet when it gets urgent I bow to the usual pressure of friends and family, doing it all over again!
This year though, I have found a new list of gift suggestions. It’s not the usual sort of gift list but perhaps more real and honest. They may appear to cost little, but in reality could be quite costly. Here’s the list:

To my enemy, forgiveness.
To my opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, my heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To myself, respect.

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No doubt I will still make the big dash to the shops on Christmas Eve, but I’ll keep this list in mind. Perhaps it will mean I buy more thoughtfully, or even think about gifts ahead of time. But maybe, just maybe, it might help me give gifts that have more meaning and indicate greater love and more consideration to the receivers than the normal Christmas ritual.

Whatever I do, I want to be sure I am honouring the one who is the giver of life, and who is responsible for the most costly gift ever – God’s gift sent from heaven in the form of a baby. Jesus Christ.