Imagine an alien reporter from a far off planet visits your home for December. Their mission: find out about Christmas so the alien's people can adopt this festival they know nothing about.
What you say and do will determine how they celebrate Christmas on their planet.
The essence of Christmas is a gift of a relationship. Matthew says the gift will be called "Immanuel" - God with us and John says Jesus was the "Word become flesh" who dwells among us.
God so yearns for relationship with us that God created all of earth. Despite our messing up and turning from God, God continued to desire us that when the time was right - God came in human form entering our life in Jesus, even dying to bring us back into relationship. Gift giving does not get any better.
Free, unconditional love - the thing we yearn for is before us for the receiving. Do nothing God says but accept the gift. Let the gift then flow to others.
I do like receiving and giving gifts for that reason. It draws me closer to God. Gift giving is a reflection of God loving me enough to give Jesus.
This Christmas as you give gifts (drop the word exchange), include a card with some words that say - this is why I love you, enjoy you or what I hope for you, why you are a gift to me... and who knows - in doing so if that alien reporter arrives at your door they'll get the real "Good News."
Jim Short can be reached at email@example.com.