I am not sure where you land on the spectrum of Christmas shopping. We normally like to make purchases early in the shopping season. We have found it to be more rewarding to purchase from local art and crafts fairs. When October rolls around, we know of a few great festivals around our area and we hit them up. Often we find unique gifts that we think our family and friends will enjoy. In the last few years, I know we have spent less and less at big box stores.
There is something about purchasing from a local person, seeing them face to face, showing that we appreciate their hard work by purchasing their work. It is deeply personal to show someone that you think that something they made with their own hands is worthy of your hard-earned money. It immediately gives that person a sense of pride to see their hard work pay off. We then carefully pack away these items with the hope that our gifts will not be broken and arrive in one piece.
It reminds me of the cost it was to God to send Jesus. God knew how people would treat Jesus, that they would eventually crucify him. Most would never believe in Him. Throughout His life, Jesus felt the full weight of the thought that in some way His Father abandoned Him, though He knew that His sacrifice was necessary. It might have been easier to send an angel or some other manifestation, yet He knew that only Jesus would do.
God willingly sent Jesus to go through a myriad of painful, gut-wrenching experiences, not so that we could exchange gifts one day, but so that we could be free from sin. So when we pack our gifts this week, it will be a reminder that although we send our thoughts, prayers, and material items, our greatest hope is that all of our loved ones will feel the freedom that only Christ can bring because of the best gift ever given.