As I always do very early in the season, the other night, I started making a list of Christmas gifts for friends and family.
While I researched, a familiar litany played out in my head: How much would that cost? Can you believe we have a holiday that depends on buying people stuff?
But as I continued making my list, clicking "Add to Cart" on Amazon, a visual popped up in my head: that of the joy on my friends' and family's faces when they open a gift that I gave to them.
And suddenly, I was able to work my way out of the cynicism that sometimes comes from the stress of the season: that this holiday, or any holiday, is solely about boosting the free marketplace, that we have bought into consumerism, that we are too materialistic, that we should be ashamed and want for nothing.
Instead, my thoughts went to the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, where he identifies Receiving Gifts as one of the 5 basic languages of love - how we give and receive love.
Although not a primary love language of mine, there are those who, as he puts it, "thrive on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift."
When a male penguin finds a companion, he finds and gives that mate a pebble. He puts effort into finding the perfect pebble, but nevertheless, it is a pebble, something found in nature.
Do you think we all have that primal instinct in us, and it's not about technology, fancy and flashy clothing or other items?
Remember that when someone wants to give you a gift, or if you are on the fence about making a big purchase.
It's not the gift that counts.
It's that we are communicating an essential type of love.
And really, how can a holiday get more beautiful than that?