Kate Taliaferro considers how our standards for gift-giving compare with God's standards, and shares a free printable Advent journal.
There is a thing in the knitting world. It seems pretty dominant, I've seen it referenced on a number of podcasts (yes, there are multiple knitting podcasts out there), YouTube channels, individual designers and frequently on Instagram. It is this idea that there are people in your life who are, "knit-worthy." Or, perhaps more accurately, there are people in your life who are "un-knit-worthy."
Here's the deal. Nothing handmade is quick if it's being done well. Knitting, done well or not, is one of those crafts that just takes time. There are those outliers who can knit a sock in 4-5 hours. But that's just one sock: last I checked, most people have two feet needing covering. That's upwards of 10 hours of work for a single pair of socks. And those are the quick people. It usually takes me at least double that time. So if socks can take someone an entire day's time to knit up, imagine how much time it takes to knit a shawl or sweater. This isn't taking into account the cost of the yarn, which has a wide range of box store to unique one of a kind indie dyer or hand spinner. A knitted gift is a big gift. It is, to use the cliché, "a labor of love.”
Now, it seems that the knitting world has created some imaginary standards for who is "worthy" for such a gift. These standards, or expectations, include things like:
- Will this person wear the gift?
- Will they put the all-wool sweater in the dryer?
- Will they show off the garment/gift to other friends?
- Will they praise my work and abilities?
- Will they appreciate the amount of time and effort this gift took and treasure it always?
These are pretty high standards. My husband and I were talking about this phenomenon in the car last week while on a multi-day trek to San Antonio and back for a friend's wedding. When we buy a gift for someone, of course we hope they will use it. We hope they will take care of it and appreciate the time we spent picking it out for them. We hope it doesn't end up in their work White Elephant party a few days after we gift it to them. But, these are hopes, not expectations.
Interestingly, when you go on Etsy to purchase a gift that was handmade, the shop owner does not list out any type of expectations to go along with their item. They may recommend washing or care instructions, perhaps they will suggest a way to use or wear the item. Ultimately, however, they know they have no control over how the person purchasing their item will use it, gift it, or otherwise be inclined to destroy it. The transfer of funds from buyer to seller is the point. Once the item is purchased, the seller moves on and so does the buyer.
As Christmas approaches, and as we continue to hear with anxiety about "global supply chain shortages," the theme of gift giving will be occupying a lot of space in our brains. I would like to challenge you, as I am challenging myself, to consider what the appropriate state of mind a true gift giver ought to be. In order to do this well, it would do us all a lot of good to consider what gifts we have been given, most importantly the gift par excellence: the gift of Jesus.
The gift of Jesus isn't something we earned. We were not worthy, righteous, or even hitting the minimums. St. Paul very clearly lays it out for us:
For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Our salvation, through the extravagance of God's mercy and grace, isn't conditional. It does not come to us only after we make certain promises or meet a list of expectations. It is a free and completely unmerited gift.
Stop and ponder this idea. If we are going to be giving gifts during the Christmas season, what is their purpose? What are they supposed to symbolically represent? Some would say that our tradition of gift giving comes from the Magi's gifts. Others, the very gift of Jesus. Either way, the gifts that we are honoring were given without expectation, without reservation.
With what spirit do you usually give gifts? Are you giving from your heart? Are you giving to be noticed or appreciated? Are you giving in the hopes of getting? Are you giving out of obligation or from a spirit of generosity and love? Whether bought or made, what your recipient does with their gift isn't really your concern. That's hard to accept. The spirit in which you give, this is where we have the opportunity draw closer to God and to one another.
I'd love to hear about your gift-giving experiences. Have you ever found yourself more concerned about what someone will do with a gift, rather than the act of giving itself?
Click to tweet:
Have you ever found yourself more concerned about what someone will do with a gift, rather than the act of giving itself? #catholicmom
I am so pleased to be able to gift to you this year's free Advent Journal, Embrace Your Own Pace. This is completely free. My only request, and it's because of copyright requirements for the Scripture references within the text, is that you please not print off a bunch of copies to pass out to all your friends or neighbors. Please direct anyone interested in this journal to DailyGraces.net, so that they can print off their own copy. But in truth, I am trying very hard not to expect anything in return for this journal. It is something God placed on my heart to create and I am gifting it back to Him as I share it with you.
Visit DailyGraces.net for download links and printing instructions for the free Advent journal.
Copyright 2021 Kate Taliaferro
Images copyright 2021 Kate Taliaferro and Ben Taliaferro, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mom of 6. She has a Masters in Religious Education and tries to find God's presence in all parts of her day, be it cooking, cleaning or just the everyday ordinary. She enjoys homeschooling, stitching crafts and finding cheerios between the couch cushions. She blogs at Daily Graces.