I love the movie because the deep issues of life, like the fine imported pigskin wallets they sell, are handled delicately and with humor. At one point in the movie, a salesman tells Clara, the main salesgirl, that he wants to buy the last musical cigar box in the store. Clara knows that her colleague doesn't like this item at all. So he explains, "I want to buy it for my brother-in-law for Christmas. It's a lot of money but it's worth it! You see, I don't like him - I don't like him at all... So it's worth it to spend a little extra to buy him something that he will hate..."
I always laugh at that line!
Yet as I think about giving, I realize it is not such a simple thing. And maybe that line in the movie is more than a line...
Tit for tat; this gift for that person... Second guessing what we've bought after we get it home... Wondering how our largess will be received... Maybe also hoping our miserly side won't be discovered...:) Wondering, possibly, what we will get in return - a hug or a frown, a piece of jewelry or a veggie chopper. (Or as my mom got from her mother-in-law on their first Christmas together - a roll of toilet paper... Sooooo not good....)
Definitely, gift-giving can cause a lot of to-do about something that may well last long after the Christmas tree is back in the box. Maybe we need a social calculator to figure up the ramifications of each gift before we buy it, wrap it up and actually put it under the tree!
And then there's the Biblical injunctions to give - not just retail to family and friends - but also to give of your time, your food, your hospitality, your love. To people who are total strangers.
To people who could never pay us back in dollars and cents. And yet, they can give back in other coin... They can smile, give a hug, offer us something small that holds no monetary value but speaks volumes about the state of their heart. Just to see a total stranger radiate love and thankfulness or to receive an unexpected hug from a needy child is truly, in my book, the best gift of all. And you don't even have to stand in line to return it because there is no way such gifts "won't fit"!
But what about when you don't even get that?
What about when you open your wallet (fine imported pigskin or otherwise:), your cupboard, your home and/or your heart and receive almost nothing in return, except the persistent feeling that you are being used? What about when you give your best to someone who smiles ingratiatingly before the gift is given and ignores you after it's been received? Or even looks disdainfully at you after they've gotten what they came for?
That, my friend, is the time to rejoice!
To look up into the face of Jesus and say, "All for You! Everything I did was for You and I'd do it again a thousand times over just to "see" the smile on Your face, just to feel the joy of Your heart!"
On those days when you reach out to the needy just because.... Because Jesus said to - pure and simple... And you wonder if the person on the parking lot begging for food is scamming you or not.. And you give them some food and know instantly by their derisive expressions that they were...
Rejoice! And pop this Steve Green song into your cd player.
Then get ready for your heart to burst with more happiness than it can hold as you and Jesus (and Steve) just lose it all and dance with abandon (if not physically then spiritually.. still got those arthritic knees...) before the throne of God.:)