There are lots of bloggers out there with Christmas-themed posts; if I miss any good ones, feel free to point them out in the comment boxes (even if it's your own blog!)
First up: Danielle Bean's Christmas Contests! Guess what her husband bought her for Christmas, from this shop or this one, and win a prize! And bragging rights!
Suzanne Temple says: Help! She has received a request for figgie pudding for Christmas! Now, some people have left links in her combox, but I know I have several UK readers--surely one of you has actually made figgie pudding and can tell Suzanne step by step how it's done. Right? Right?
Karen Edmisten has a whole list of helpful links for those of us who, for whatever reasons, are stuck in the house. 'Tis the season, after all!
What are your favorite Christmas carols? Lorri wants to know!
Dale Price has some wonderful news to share! Congratulations, Price family! There's nothing quite like a bassinet near the Christmas tree, with a wide-eyed infant to remind us of the joy of the season.
And last, but not least, my regular guest blogger "Freddy" has written a thoughtful piece about Christmas gifts and giving that I know you'll enjoy. God bless, all!
The Perfect Gift
Someone once told me that there were two kinds of people in the world: givers and receivers. It's never more obvious than at this time of year. The difference is easy to spot. Some people you talk to are excited beyond belief about the hints they've managed to drop, the deals and sales that will make it possible for their loved ones to buy them that perfect little something they have their heart set on, the bits of whispered conversations they've overheard. Others are just as excited about the things they've managed to find for their loved ones, things they have hidden away, their eagerness to see the looks on their faces come Christmas when they open that perfect gift.
The dark side of the receiver's habit is well known. Greed and dissatisfaction can make the receiver an unpleasant companion or confidante. "I can't believe they thought I'd like that!" they complain, or, "Nobody really knows what I like!" they whine. Someone actually told me once, "I know it's the thought that counts, but what on earth could they have been thinking?"
Believe it or not, the giver has a dark side as well, albeit a bit more subtle. "It is better to give than to receive" may be an accurate old saying, but "generous to a fault" doesn't always have a positive meaning. Some people really are generous to a fault. They give to make themselves feel good, without regard to the feelings of others. They can even give with malice aforethought, to anger or to embarrass. They enjoy the feeling of smugness when their gifts were unanticipated and cannot be reciprocated. They are sure that their gifts are never as appreciated as they ought to be, and pat themselves on the back for their overwhelming generosity.
If we don't know how to receive as we ought, we often don't know how to give as we ought either. But of course Christmas isn't about either giving or receiving that perfect little something. We've already got that in the Nativity of Our Lord, presented not in glam wrapping paper but in swaddling clothes, dusty with the straw of the manger. The perfect gift. And Mary teaches us how to accept such a gift -- with praise, with love, and with open generosity that welcomes the shepherds and wise men into the light of the Lord. All our giving and receiving is in childish imitation of that great Gift. And if we see ourselves as the children we are we can give open-hearted and fearlessly.
We decorated our Christmas tree this past Gaudete Sunday. Each of our children has a box of ornaments except the youngest who was born last March. Our 13 year old couldn't put up his own ornaments until he made one for his baby brother. A paper snowflake, decorated with markers and strung on a bit of yarn. A perfect gift.