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The best gift you can bestow in the Christmas season is to forgive everyone: Father Eugene Hemrick

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Parties, cookie exchanges, family get-togethers and that bowl of Christmas candy on your co-worker's desk can all weigh heavily on the scale at this time of year. (CNS photo/Rawpixel via Unsplash)

By FATHER EUGENE HEMRICK

The holiday panic of picking out the right gifts is upon us. Now comes the challenge deciding what best to give a beloved or dear friend.

Eugene Hemrick
Father Eugene Hemrick writes for Catholic News Service (CNS file photo/Bob Roller)

Our materialist world is forever pointing us to worldly gifts as the way to celebrate the moment. Seldom, however, are we pointed to the very soul and ultimate end of a gift. Here are some quotes that take us in that direction.

Having children is a gift, but raising them is often a bewildering challenge. American television personality and puppeteer Fred Rogers points us to an extraordinary gift for parenting: “One of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is the gift of accepting that child’s uniqueness.”

Many a child has had a nightmare childhood due to parents who tried to make them into their own likeness. And yet many a child has experienced the gift of parents who promoted and supported their uniqueness.

Famed cookbook author Lidia Bastianich goes to the heart of giftedness: “Make gifts meaningful by putting the time in creating them, whether baking and cooking, or in making arts and craft. It will all have more meaning for the giver and receiver.”

In our age of instant meals, a homemade meal may be memorable, but even more memorable is when the heart and a burning desire to make it joyful accompany it.

St. Francis of Assisi tells us, “Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”

There is no greater Christmas gift than being a person who had been haunted by a bad habit and having conquered it.

On self-conquest, American poet Maya Angelou would counsel, “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, is forgive. Forgive everybody.”

Author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia points to the essence of exchanging gifts: “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

As we learn from these quotes, a true gift is to envision a gift as a grace whose ultimate purpose is endowing another with the joy and goodness God intends for them.