A different kind of giving


It has officially  begun: The scramble.

I bought artful “Noel” Christmas note cards on clearance at Barnes and Noble last January. Post-it note lists of card recipients sprawl across my work station while my bedside table is full of gift ideas for my family members. These tasks are both joyful and celebratory for me and as I anticipate the coming Gift of Jesus’ incarnation, it makes sense to my heart and mind to bless my community near and far with various tokens of my affection and gratitude.

But Jesus came for the world, right? And while I am thankful for my little world, I am caught up in wondering how I can reflect God’s gift to the whole of humanity through my own mentality about Christmas this year.

Back to the scramble: What will I get for my three closest girlfriends from college? This question stumps me almost every year. We all have what we need and most ideas I come up with reduce to a small voice inside my head, smacking “I’m getting you this gift because I have to get you a gift” or “This will end up stuffed in a drawer somewhere – the gesture of gift-giving appreciated, but the actual gift rather pointless.”  And so, my mental shopping continues.

After walking through the gift catalog inside my head, I somehow find myself back where I started: How can I make Christmas about the bigger Gift? My friends and I have so much. Jesus came for the world. Who might need this Gift of good news in a tangible way? How might my friends and I be reminded of Jesus’ wider provision for the world?

Here’s one idea: alternative gifts. Through groups such as Heifer International and World Vision, I can work to reflect God’s provision in the world to those who need material goods the most and I can work to reflect that same provision for my friends (and myself), who have the stuff we need but might be due for a reminder of God’s Gift to us.

So, my three best girlfriends are each getting a rabbit this Christmas. Sure, they’ll never meet their bunnies, but these three rabbits and their offspring will provide nourishment, income, and fertilizer for a family somewhere else in the world who need a tangible reminder of what provision is. In the meantime, my friends here might be reminded of the larger provision, born in a manger, perhaps amidst some bunny rabbits. He is the greatest gift of all.

Happy Advent… and maybe this can help slow the scramble.

-Ellie Poole

(top photo from flickr user Anemone Letterpress, lower photo from flickr user Hugo! Both images licensed via Creative Commons)


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About Ellie Poole

Ellie is a Wellness Advocate at the Clergy Health Initiative. A native of Durham, she attended Wake Forest University, where she majored in History and Secondary Education. Additionally, Ellie has experience researching the Church's care for those with mental illnesses. She loves reading, running (outside!), NCAA basketball, and good coffee.

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