Christmas gift

Christmas time is a good time to reflect on gifts: a gift has the quality of gratuitousness, that is, it shows unselfish love. It means that gratuitousness qualifies love: love is only such if it can be said to be gratuitous. And there is no greater gift than the Child born in Bethlehem.

December 27, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes

We associate the word Christmas with a decorated tree with dozens of gifts to unwrap around it, or with a beautifully lit fireplace with socks on top of which to bring out the various presents. The real gift, as we all know, is not the material object, but the desire to share something of ourselves or to improve some aspect of our loved ones. More than the material object, the wrapped gift helps us to give the surprise and wonder that today seem to be the most difficult emotions to experience.

The wonder of anticipation, of the imagination that dreams, invents and creates, is in that colorful paper that wraps the gifts. Just as the cloths that wrapped Jesus protected and safeguarded the Gift of a God made man, or rather, infant, child, defenseless and unarmed, when we unveil the gift of his paper, we remove the veil - we "unveil" it - and that same gesture reveals it to us as a gift.

The moment of the gift is never just the object itself, but the sharing together of the moment in which the surprise of the receiver meets the hope, for the giver, of having understood something important about the soul of the one before him. The cloths with which Mary wraps her Son to give him to humanity in the manger are not meant to hide Jesus, but to protect him. In the same way, the paper of our gifts protects our love from the haste and superficiality with which we too often ruin many of our relationships throughout the year.

The gift has the quality of gratuitousness, that is, it shows a disinterested love. It means that gratuitousness qualifies love: love is only such if it can be said to be gratuitous. But when gratuitousness is embodied in a gift, it expresses a love that, without wanting anything in return, thinks that others should behave in the same way. If I welcome into my home the son of a friend who comes to my city for a competition, I expect him to thank me. This does not mean an obligation to give some kind of "reciprocity" (which is possible, but not in terms of duty, otherwise we would be in the scenario of a mere barter, or even a "mafia" relationship), but the recognition that this behavior has been humane and therefore, when my friend is able, he will also do something similar in his city.

That's why, at Christmas - it can be Epiphany, St. Nicholas or St. Lucia: it doesn't matter..... - all of us, even if we are atheists, agnostics or even of other religions, exchange gifts. Because, even if we don't believe that Christmas is the Savior's birthday, we all feel that Christmas is the birthday of each and every one of us.

The authorMauro Leonardi

Priest and writer.

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