Remember the gifts of love and devotion

By  Adanna Chigbo, Youth Speak News
  • December 13, 2011

Since early November, stores have been filled with Christmas decorations and an endless stream of Christmas music.

I forced myself to believe that maybe all this excitement had something to do with people eagerly expecting the birth of Jesus. Sadly, there is a limit to how much one can deceive themself.

How many children think of St. Nicholas and blessings at Christmas, not Santa and presents? How many times have I gaped at a suddenly precious item without mentally adding it to the Christmas shopping list? Zero.

In the end, the truth stares me in the face: Christmas has been turned into a commercialized version of what it ought to stand for.

But what is it supposed to stand for? Going back to the origin of Christmas present-giving, St. Nicholas comes to mind.

St. Nicholas is credited as the initiator of giving presents at Christmas.

Born into wealth, after his parents died he committed all his wealth to charitable works — the most prominent of which was his secretly providing a poor father with the means of caring for his daughters. Eventually becoming bishop, he was arrested, tortured and sent to jail for preaching God’s Word, but that didn’t curtail his mission, which continued until his death.

So what makes this man so special? Why should anyone care more about this man than Santa giving out presents? 

As Catholics, St. Nicholas demonstrates exactly what God calls us to do as we await His Son’s arrival. Like St. Nicholas, we are called to be examples of our faith and to do this we need to focus more on giving.

Not necessarily the giving of material things, but more of the giving of one’s self to God’s service as we wait for the coming of Christ. This is the time to draw the line between the things of this world and the things He asks of us as we march onwards into the new Church year.

As for the giving of gifts, He asks that we drop our gifts at His tree — our gifts of time, love and devotion — and drop these same gifts at the trees of others in dire need.

Despite the growing commercialization of the season, He wants us to give of ourselves to those living among us who need it. The sense of fulfilment that comes from this kind of giving will help mentally prepare ourselves to receive Jesus, not just in celebration of His physical coming, but also as He comes into our hearts.

Here’s to the rediscovery of the true meaning of Christmas and the satisfaction that comes with it. Merry Christmas!

(Chigbo, 17, is a first-year communication, culture and information technology student at the University of Toronto Mississauga.)

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