Listen to episode 120 of the Inspirational Living podcast: Christmas Gifts & Giving (The Spirit of Christmas). Adapted from the book The Spirit of Christmas by Henry Van Dyke.
Christmas Podcast Excerpt: The custom of exchanging presents on a certain day in the year is very much older than Christmas, and means very much less. Gift giving has been a custom in almost all ages of the world, and among many different nations.
It is a fine thing or a foolish thing, as the case may be; an encouragement to friendliness, or a tribute to fashion; an expression of good nature, or a bid for favor; an outgoing of generosity, or a disguise of greed; a cheerful old custom, or a futile old farce, according to the spirit which animates it and the form which it takes.
But when this ancient and variously interpreted tradition of a day of gifts was transferred to the Christmas season, it was brought into vital contact with an idea which must transform it, and with an example which must lift it up to a higher plane. The example is the life of Jesus. And the idea is unselfish interest in the happiness of others.
The great gift of Jesus to the world was himself. He lived with and for humanity. He kept back nothing. In every particular and personal gift that he made to certain people there was something of himself that made it precious.