Re-Gifting of the Magi

This year we had a bit of a family blow out over our annual tradition of picking names out of a hat for Christmas. We couldn’t come to an agreement about themes, amounts, or what was considered “equitable” gift giving. Rules and regulations were established: there was to be no cheapskating, no re-gifting or any other monkey business. And it got ugly. So ugly, in fact, that we collectively hit Christmas rock bottom and decided to axe the tradition for the year while we licked our wounds and dried our tears. Feel free to cue Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”…

As luck would have it, I just finished reading O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi” with my English classes and our discussions about the spirit of giving really stung. The magi gave the baby Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts that were both prophetic and symbolic of Jesus’ future. While I cannot be certain, I am pretty sure that the magi peacefully decided upon the gifts each would bestow to Jesus. I mean, maybe they did throw elbows about who got to give the gold, but it’s unlikely, especially since myrrh was more valuable during biblical times. It is also highly unlikely that they decided to have a “Yankee Swap” in the manger and that Mary decided she wanted the myrrh more than Jesus. I am also willing to bet that Joseph didn’t cause mayhem by accusing the magi of holding onto the better gifts for the other baby in the manger down the road.

Mary and Joseph must have just said “thank you,” despite the fact that what they really could have used was a midwife, some water, some swaddling bands, and a few extra bales of hay. Funny enough, none of the Christmas stories include any suggestion that the gifts the magi brought to Jesus were criticized in any way, when it is painfully clear that, practically speaking, the gifts were downright useless to a family who just birthed a child in an glorified shed, meant to house cows and sheep.

So, why is it that we, as a society continue to act like a bunch of mules when it comes to understanding the spirit of Christmas and in emulating the original tradition of gift-giving? It simply is NOT about money, desire, or practicality. Christmas is about honoring the people you love with a token of your appreciation, a token that is mindfully selected with love and care and is given from the heart.

How is your family celebrating the holidays? Will there be gift swaps, or have you nixed the presents entirely?

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About Becky Jha

Born and raised in rural Connecticut , Becky DeMattia-Jha attended Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and has her M.Ed. She has been teaching high school English for 15 years and currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband, their two children, and their German Shepherd. She spends her precious summer vacations indulging in passions other than literature: serving as a lactation peer coach, practicing herbal medicine, organic gardening, making natural cleansers and cosmetics, and preparing quick and easy organic recipes for her family. She hopes to share her efficient, chemical-free, eco-conscious, frugal, and simplistic homemaking and homesteading tips with you.

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