A Lesson in Christmastime Consumerism: The Re-gift of Ourselves

End the Regift Cycle. Give Them What They Really Want.

On the Arvest Bank homepage, A blonde woman with shining white teeth and a barely-stubbled brunette man say, “Merry Christmas, baby! Love you,” with their eyes as he hands her the pre-packaged gift.

And I was not okay with it.

Once someone handed me a stack of cash as a gift, because they felt like it would make up for something, like it would bring endless joy and fix a lot of brokenness between us.

I was offended, and I went to TJ Maxx and spent most of the money on clothes and other useless things, thinking, If he can so thoughtlessly give this, I will thoughtlessly spend it.

— Bad logic, I know.

But I have received re-gifted items, too. I have been given pieces that sat on someone else’s mantel or in their children’s rooms, objects with stories and memories attached to them that show me a depth to relationship.

We are able to share with each other when we give pieces of ourselves in things that are pulled together with our creative hands and big hearts.

Bonhoeffer said,

“The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty. A human life is worth as much respect as it holds for the mystery. We retain the child in us to the extent that we honor the mystery. Therefore, children have open, wide-awake eyes, because they know that they are surrounded by the mystery. They are not yet finished with this world; they still don’t know how to struggle along and avoid the mystery, as we do. We destroy mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that’s just what we cannot do with the mystery…

Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others and the world. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation.

Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them.”

This is beyond just the money. It goes deep into the veins of what we treasure in giving, deep into the spirit of this particular season.

We can give gifts, certainly. When I am browsing Target’s Christmas section with the boys, I want to buy every glittery Christmas tree I find, fill my shopping cart with everything red and green and give each of my sons a dancing fox or sock monkey that sings Christmas carols. But I have to hold something still in myself, something anchored to the mystery of baby born holy who ignites life into the world and into me.

But the Arvest ad is a piece of plastic, a stack of cash begging to be used at the nearest TJ Maxx. And there’s no mystery in it, and certainly no wide-awake, childlikeness.

It’s Advent, right??

Jesus brought Himself to us, human and holy, and He brings Himself to us every day in the most creative ways, in the most mysterious.

Re-gifting is re-creating, with our hearts open wide to generosity at its purest. It’s taking the child-wonder again and keeping it close as we celebrate each other.

And I’m okay with that.

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