When our children were young, we were a single-income family buying our first home—and Christmas was upon us again.
With parents, grandparents, children, and family, we had a Christmas list with more than 20 names. And we were accustomed to sharing gifts with them all. Unfortunately, each year we found ourselves still paying our Christmas bills through the springtime. How could we enjoy holiday sharing without feeling the "pain of payment" that would follow? Was it possible to feel, instead, the true meaning of Christmas?
"Father," we prayed, "show us what we need to know." Almost immediately, this answer came: "What are you really giving?"
We thought about that. From studying Science and Health, we were familiar with seven especially helpful synonyms, or names, for God, which we had often found invaluable in leading us to a better understanding of God's nature. These names are Mind, Spirit, Life, Truth, Principle, Soul, and Love. So, we decided to use these synonyms to understand better the spiritual nature of our gift-giving.
We had already purchased several gifts. All we needed to do was look at them in a new light. Grandma's sweater represented warmth, comfort. So, it became Love. Grampa's hammer showed strength, precision; so we thought of it as a gift of Principle. Aunt Betty's poinsettia was Life. The children's books were surely Mind. The paint set, with its promise of individual artistic expression? Spirit. The biography to Uncle Cliff could be Truth (at least we hoped it would be). And some scenic photographs would be a gift of Soul.
So, what were we giving? Spiritual gifts represented materially. Spiritual gifts are from God, and they are unending, continuous, and always available. Understanding the ideas behind our Christmas presents became the basis of our thinking, and the basis of our giving. For each gift we had already purchased, and for all that followed, we chose one of the names for God to represent it.
It was the happiest shopping season we'd ever had. And by the end of January, without any additional income or influx of money, all our bills were paid.
Seeing the idea behind Christmas giving, seeing our gifts as related to God's nature, was the best gift we had that year. And we never again felt a financial crunch—at Christmastime or any other time.
Brookline, New Hampshire
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