Christmas is the season of gift giving. We spend a great deal of time thinking about gifts, selecting gifts, talking about gifts, and paying for gifts. Even when we wrap gifts, there is deep meaning in the wrapped presentation of our gifts. A Swiss psychiatrist of an earlier generation writes:
This great hunger for gifts is not so much a hunger for pleasure as for affection. People’s need to be loved is universal and limitless; it is of the essence of life. Freudians have amply demonstrated this point. Jean-Paul Sartre, in one of his early writings, states that the thing which counts in human psychology is not the facts but the meaning of those facts, that which they mean to the people involved. The meaning of gifts is in the love that they express, the love both given and received. All people have this need to give their affection and to feel that it is appreciated. All are equally seeking proofs of their being loved, and of feeling that those who love them have great pleasure in this. We do not want a totally impersonal love; it would only be a dry and humiliating act of charity. Mutuality is the very law of love: There is no pleasure in loving unless the other enjoys equally in being loved.
Every person needs to feel that someone is really interested in him or her, her affection, his life, or even in the smallest gift possible. This need is imperative, far more so than most wish to admit. Repeatedly, and in a more or less hidden manner, they are going about begging both for affection and for someone to whom they may, in turn, show affection (Paul Tournier, The Meaning of Gifts, John Knox Press, Atlanta, 1961, pp. 52-53).
Humans need to know that they are loved and they need to show that they love other people. It is this all-too-human motive that stands behind the gifts we give and the gifts we receive. Our relations to other people are the attachments that make us truly human. We need to love others. We need for others to love us. Sometimes life can be boiled down to a philosophy that is just this simple.
Don’t forget: Chancel Choir's presentation of Vivaldi's Gloria is in all Sanctuary services this Sunday, and our Children’s Christmas Pageant is also this Sunday, December 4th at 5:00 pm