Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (December 7, 2006)

Published December 7, 2006

The other day, I met a couple of our youngsters from St. Pius X High School as I was shopping for my “secret Santa” kid at a local sports store. These two young men were out shopping with one of their mothers, and they spied me and stopped by to say hello! It’s always good to run into our people as I go about pursuing the same activities as them—it makes the Archbishop seem closer to his people when he has to stand in line and ask for help in finding the right aisle or the right shoe size or the best pair of soccer socks!

All of us during these next few weeks will be engaged in shopping for others, and since I don’t shop for young people all that frequently, it’s always a novel adventure for me. I rather enjoy discovering what youngsters want as Christmas gifts—it keeps me in touch with what’s fashionable in the toy world. All of us, however, love to receive gifts, and giving gifts to others is an expression of love that should bring us joy.

Gifts are an expression of who we are as people, and that is why finding the right gift can be such a chore. There are some folks for whom buying the perfect gift can be a real challenge. There are people who “already have everything.” There are folks whose likes and dislikes make them difficult to please. Then there are children who usually provide enough hints to make shopping for them an easy, but perhaps expensive, assignment.

As we all go about our Christmas shopping, we should not lose sight of the reason that we engage in this behavior: We want to express our love for others. We want our children to know that they are loved and special. We want our relatives and friends to know that they have an exclusive place in our hearts and in our lives. Above all, we want to give ourselves in the gifts that we offer to one another at Christmas. That is why the simple gift of a child to a parent occasionally brings tears since the little one is learning the meaning of love and the heart of this Christmas season.

So as you go about your hurried activities this Advent to make sure that all of your loved ones receive a special gift—and special does not always translate into expensive—let us remember that gifts are really sacraments that reveal an offering of self. That is why the Father’s Gift of His Son has never been bested!

Some people simply do not like shopping; they find it an unpleasant chore. Some people delay their Christmas shopping until the very last minute possible; they like to tempt fate. Some people shop early and then sit back and chuckle as others panic.

All of us need to remember that the reason for all of this frantic activity is to give ourselves to one another in the presents that we offer. Only the Father has managed to find the right Gift that is always in fashion and something that we all desperately needed.

Good luck in your efforts to find that perfect gift!