Trying to discern appropriate Christmas gifts for my family is always an issue. How much is too much to spend? Do I need to buy for everybody in the family? Has that gift been made under safe labor conditions, or will buying it contribute to a culture of economic slavery or environmental degradation? Which charity do we support, when there is so much need out there? As a creature of an Ignatian worldview, these are some of the tensions I find in my Christmas shopping angst.
When I saw some of these tensions popping up in my daily prayer and Examen, I wondered what direction St. Ignatius might give me on the matter. In only a few short minutes I found myself relieved, smiling, and knowing the answers to many of those questions. I imagined that on every gift I buy or seek there will be a bright “Ignatius Gift Guide” sticker that reads:
We appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth to that goal. (First Principle and Foundation)
The gift is the focus of Christmas as much as the fork is the focus of the meal. It is only a means to experience the feast of love that fills our lives.