Little Gifts of Love: What Dollar General Taught Me About Gift Giving
Editor’s note: Teresa Regnier earned an honorable mention for this entry in the 2015 Seton Christmas Essay contest.
When I was a little girl, my dad would bring my siblings and me to the Dollar General store around Thanksgiving to buy Christmas gifts for one another. The Dollar General was an ideal place to shop because we could all buy presents for each family member without spending more money than we had in our piggybanks.
Upon entering the store, I would duck into an aisle that didn’t have any siblings in it and start excitedly searching for the right gift for each person. This was hard to do because the Dollar General has only so many things to offer. Nevertheless, I always found presents that were “just right.”
One year the perfect gift for my mom was a ceramic coffee mug with a Bible verse on it. Another year it was a miniature remote control car for my little brother or a fountain pen for Dad. No matter what “treasures” I walked out with, I remember being so excited at the thought of my siblings’ faces when they opened their gifts. It was a struggle to keep the gifts a surprise, and to prevent myself from bursting, I told my other siblings what every other person was getting.
When I got home, I immediately wanted to wrap the gifts up with the things I had on hand. Placing them in shoe boxes so that they would not get broken, I wrapped the presents in paper towels decorated with markers. Then I put the wrapped gifts in a hidden place, like under my bed or in the closet, and waited impatiently for Christmas.
On Christmas morning as I placed each present into my family members’ hands, I begged them to open my gift first, and watched with infinite satisfaction as each gift was unwrapped and admired.
This is how Daddy taught me to give gifts lovingly and joyfully, and it is surprisingly similar to the way God gave us the great gift of His Son two thousand years ago. Now, of course, God didn’t buy Jesus at the Dollar General, but He did procure His gift from an equally unlikely place. Sending His angel Gabriel to a poor virgin, He asked Mary to be the mother of His Son. God obtained the gift of His Son’s humanity from Mary when she said “yes” to Him. Mary was like the Dollar General; she did not appear to have much to offer, yet God found just what He was looking for in her.
Now that God’s gift had become incarnate, He needed a place to hide this gift until Christmas. He chose one that was even more unique than under a bed or in a closet. For nine months He hid His infant Son in a virgin’s womb. All that was left to do was to wait for Christmas!
But God could hardly contain His joy and anticipation in giving man this gift, and so He let Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and Joseph in on the secret. When Christmas Eve finally came, God presented His gift to the world through Mary. The infant Christ Child was born, and Mary cared for Him using the things she had on hand. She placed Jesus in a humble feeding box and wrapped Him in strips of white cloth.
Just as I showed my family members their gifts and begged them to open my presents first, God invited some shepherds and Wise Men to come see Jesus. He asked them to “unwrap” His gift, to experience the joy of His Son’s divine presence. Watching the shepherds run from the stable shouting out praise and the Wise Men bowing down in adoration before His Son, God smiled with great satisfaction. His gift was received with appreciation and joy by those who knew and loved Him best.
So often today we forget that Christmas gifts don’t need to be big and expensive. We spend the weeks preceding Christmas rushing around trying to find the newest, coolest gifts because we think that anything less is not good enough. But the beautiful part about gift-giving is that it is not about the gift itself.
Rather, it’s about showing our loved ones how much we care about and appreciate them. The love we have for our family and friends is the real gift. When we realize this, buying Christmas presents does not become a chore or a stressful thing we have to do, but an exciting opportunity to show love to another person.
My Daddy taught me this lesson by bringing me to the Dollar General store for Christmas shopping. God taught the world this lesson by sending His Son from heaven to the womb of a humble virgin, and from Mary’s womb to a stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born to show the world the amazing love of the Father.
by Teresa Regnier
Teresa Regnier is a senior, the 3rd oldest of 7 children and has been homeschooled all her life. She is thankful for the solid Catholic education she receives at home. She has been enrolled in Seton’s English, Reading, and Religion classes over the years, and is also taking American Government this year. She loves to play the piano, sing in the choir at her church, and read. She has always enjoyed science classes, and is planning on pursuing a degree in nursing at the University of Mary in Bismarck next fall.