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The Gifts Symbolized Christ’s IdentityEach of the gifts offered by the wise men was symbolic of Jesus’ identity and mission. Gold was a kingly gift, representing His lineal right to the Jewish throne as a descendant of David. Frankincense is an incense burned during sacrificial offerings at the temple. It was said to represent the prayers of the people ascending to Heaven, and indicated the Magi’s belief in his Godhood. Myrrh is an embalming oil, which represents both Christ’s mortality and the promise that He would eventually die so that we could all receive eternal life. When God gives us good gifts, He also personalizes them to our unique interests, talents, and life circumstances. As we look for gifts for our loved ones at Christmastime, we can look for gifts that represent their own identity and life mission. Taking an interest in their interests and their lives will mean as much—or more—than the gift itself and will help your family and friends feel loved and supported. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are some gift guides I’ve put together that are tailored to specific interests. (Obviously, these don’t cover everybody. It’s just the interests I happen to know something about… ?)
The Wise Men Gave Gifts of ValueGold, frankincense, and myrhh are anything but throwaway gifts. They were incredibly valuable—in fact, the frankincense and myrhh may have been worth more in gold than the gold itself was. These were clearly not throwaway gifts. Imagine how a humble carpenter and his young wife would have felt seeing these gifts in their living room. The blessing that would have been is almost unimaginable. Additionally, the gifts were useful: gold could be used for supporting their family, and both frankincense and myrrh have a variety of medicinal uses. Here are some easy ways to give gifts of value this Christmas:
- Opt for gifts that are made with care and quality materials over gifts that are going to fall apart after one or two uses. This has the added benefit of paying respect to the earth, one of God’s greatest gifts to His children.
- Quality gifts can be expensive, so you can also consider making your own. I love love love that in this year’s First Presidency Christmas Devotional, Elder Patrick Kearon testified of the value of homemade gifts in our efforts to shift our focuses back to Christ this Christmas.
- Give experience gifts. I have been blessed with a variety of experience-based gifts in my life, and each one gave me memories I will treasure forever. These gifts can be for the receiver to enjoy on their own or with their family or friends—including you! Time is a precious commodity. Giving the gift of your time and undivided attention will strengthen relationships and help the receiver feel loved and valued.
- Give the gift of learning. Whether it’s a really great book or a class in a subject they’re interested in, educational gifts never expire. I recommend Book Depository for great prices on books and free shipping world wide, Audible if they prefer audiobooks, or KindleUnlimited if they like using an e-reader. If online classes are more their style, EdX offers a wide variety of university courses online, and Udemy and CreativeLive are both great resources for technical and creative training courses. If you are knowledgeable in an area they’re interested in, giving them a lesson or two is a great way to combine learning, experience, and your time in one gift.
The Wise Men Watched for the StarOne of the things I like most about the story of the wise men is that they watched for the star heralding the Messiah’s birth. They probably didn’t just look up one day and go, “Oh, hey. Was that star there yesterday?” They knew the prophecies, and they watched for them to be fulfilled. And when the sign appeared, they left their homes and traveled who knows how far to find the promised Christ child. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we, like the wise men, can look for signs of Christ in our lives. We can quiet the noise of the holiday by choosing Christmas music that focuses on the Savior. We can study the scriptures about Christ’s birth with our families. We can notice and express gratitude for the blessings we already have, which all come through Christ. And we can give good gifts that will bless the lives of our loved ones. As we focus on the Savior during the holidays, we will have His Spirit with us in greater abundance and He will inspire us with ways to make the season more meaningful and special for all.
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