Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (December 20, 2018)
Christmas is one of the favourite times of the year for me – there are beautiful decorations, the weather is getting cooler, so many festive parties to celebrate the season, and gift giving is such a joy. But it’s also one of the busiest times of the year – deadlines to meet before the year ends, gifts to buy, parties to attend, suitcases to pack for vacations. In the midst of the busyness, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas.
For those of us who are Christians, Christmas carries a special meaning of remembering the birth of Jesus, God’s gift to the world by sending His son, the savior of the world. Even for people who aren’t Christians, Christmas carries the spirit of giving. But sometimes we can get so caught up in giving gifts that we don’t give things that are even more precious than physical gifts.
What are some gifts that we can give that don’t cost a thing?
1. The gift of time
I know people say that ‘time is money’ but it is so much more precious; perhaps the most precious commodity in our busy world. And in this season, let’s take the time to carve out time to spend it with people who are dearest to us. Whether it’s at a lavish meal or just huddling around a simple snack, the gift of time of the most precious gift we can give to our loved ones.
2. The gift of a listening ear
Christmas is a time to celebrate but for some, it might be a challenging time of loneliness because family may be far away or it could be a reminder of a time of loss of a loved one. For those, people, giving the gift of a listening ear and a being a source of comfort could be the greatest gift.
3. The gift of a hug
I’m an avid hugger and love giving hugs. They don’t cost a thing but have the power to convey a powerful message – ‘you are loved’, ‘I’m here for you’, ‘I’m so happy to see you’. We come from a culture that is not keen on physical touch but there is something powerful about it. I once heard that everyone needs 7 hugs a day from different people so go out and start giving some out today!
4. The gift of care
One thing I love about Christmas is how people show their love and care to those in need in the community. Every year, we bring our students to visit the elderly and bring Christmas cheer to them and we also host a gift drive so that children in hospitals can also receive Christmas gifts. So this Christmas, who will you choose to show care to? It could be visiting the elderly, supporting a charitable cause through donating items, taking underprivileged children out for an outing or handing out blankets to the homeless. Whatever it is, giving the gift of care often winds up being the giver being the most blessed.
5. The gift of peace
One beautiful part of the Christmas story is that Jesus was sent to the world as the ‘Prince of Peace’ and through him, we can be reconciled to God and have a relationship with Him. He is the One who gives us ultimate peace. So in this season, let’s also extend that peace to those around us. Is there anyone you need to forgive or anyone you need to ask forgiveness from? By doing so, we are giving the gift of peace and it is one of the most precious gifts we can give or receive.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas that is filled with the gifts of time, kindness, generosity, care and peace!