When I arrived at our elementary school’s Santa’s Secret Shop, my son had already been assigned to shop with another mom. So, I rushed over and said, “I’m here! Sorry I’m late…” After she handed him off to me, he confided, “I’m so glad you’re here. I want to get Mamaw a breakable, because I know she likes breakables, but that lady kept saying, ‘Well, let’s look over here instead…'”

“Oh, Buddy…” I said sympathetically. Then I suggested we go check out those ‘breakables’. (Otherwise know as fragile Christmas decor.)

You must understand that our school has a ‘Mrs. Clause’ who spends the entire year stocking our shop with stuff that you’d actually like to receive on Christmas morning! So it’s not surprising that as my son lingered over a crystal-looking Santa, there was something else that caught my eye.

I said, “Oh, look at these! Aren’t they so cute?! I think Mamaw would looooove them!” They were cute metallic reindeer with bendable legs, designed to sit on a shelf. Following my lead, my son put one of the darling reindeer in his shopping bag, and we continued shopping.

The next morning, as I was making my son breakfast, I said, “That’s too bad about the lady at Santa’s Secret Shop. I mean, you’re the one who’s supposed to do the shopping, not her, right?”

He nodded and said, “Yeah… I just wish I could have gotten Mamaw a breakable.”

That’s when it dawned on me. I had done the same thing as the other mom! I had influenced my son to choose a gift based on my (non-breakable) preferences, instead of his. Sure, I know my mom’s taste, but I was forgetting that what she loves most is seeing what the kids have chosen for her.

As a ‘Control Girl‘, I struggle with the whole gift thing. I want to control what I give, what others give, how my gifts are received, what I receive, etc.!!! When I try to control all of this, I completely mess up the tradition of giving.

I plan to share some posts between now and Christmas on the topic of Control Girls and gifts. (If you have a story on the subject, I’d love hear it. My email is shanpopkin@gmail.com.) But for today, I’m going to take my son shopping. I plan to seal my lips, stuff my hands in my pockets, and pay for whatever ‘breakable’ he chooses for his grandma (as long as it doesn’t break me!). And she’ll love it, because it’s from him.

Gifts illustrate the relationship between two people. The giver is reflected in what he loves to give.

Jesus, who was God’s gift to us, perfectly reflects what God values. Think of Jesus, who tucked his glory into a fragile baby, then allowed his flesh to be pierced with the nails and sword of the mocking world. Jesus was the ‘breakable’ gift of God, given so that he could reach us! Jesus reveals a Giver who values humility and sacrifice and selflessness.

Lord, help me to be like Jesus who gave his life up. Help me, like Jesus, to be a gift that reflects you.

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