To many, the Christmas holidays are all about giving and receiving gifts. Mall crowds and heavy traffic smother cities in December due to countless people looking to cross people off their Christmas lists. The rush of the holidays, bonuses, shopping, parties and hectic schedules can sometimes be a little overwhelming, so much so that it becomes easy to lose sight of what the Christmas season is really about.
Showing appreciation to people who are important to you and being grateful for your blessings should be the essence behind gift-giving - lessons that often get overlooked due to the materialism that the holidays also bring.
Spending valuable time with family, giving thanks, celebrating a certain Someone's birthday (it ain't Santa), and making fresh happy memories with the people you love to usher in a new year is really what Christmas is all about.
Giving gifts and receiving cool stuff is always great, but really its the intangible things that truly matter.
We hope you are all surrounded by the people you love this Christmas season and may you all have more blessings in the coming year. Merry Christmas from us over here at Livph!
In tune with the spirit of giving, we ask some friends the question, "what is the best gift you have ever received?"
"So when I was asked what the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten was, all these awesome gifts from the past started popping up in my head. I wanted to write about everything, from receiving a T.V from Santa, and even getting a whole music studio setup from my parents. All these gifts wanted to be a part of this blog but there can only be one. This gift is the story that we all grew up hearing, yes, we all love the reindeers, the snowman, and Santa but this story is the main reason why we celebrate this season. This gift is from Our Father in heaven. Imagine a gift from God, the One who created the universe sending His only Son so He can save me. As a human being I am evil, I am wicked, I am sinful and I am destined to go to hell. But God above loves me so much that He sent His only son so I can be saved. This gift is incomparable, and it is a gift that i treasure dearly."
"The best gift I've ever received was my engagement ring from my now-husband. He proposed to me while we were surfing during our 7th year together.
The ring is white gold which is my favorite. It's emerald cut and the stone used for the ring was from his late grandmother. He designed it on his own and to me it's the most beautiful ring I've ever seen."
"Best gift ever received: To myself as a reward for my retirement in 2010 - A trip to the Holy Land. It was spiritually uplifting to see the sights and places where Jesus lived here on Earth. I'm thankful every day for all the blessings that come my way."
"The best gift I ever received (whether it be my birthday, Christmas, or any other special occasion) arrived last November 18, 2016. Crisela and I became parents to a beautiful and good baby girl--Selina.
It has been 8 years since we got married and basically "lived life" (enjoying, traveling, working, studying abroad, and moving countries), we finally have our first child.
Selina not only brings us overflowing happiness, but most importantly teaches/refreshes us with many important lessons in life like maturity, patience, and in theme with the Christmas season--giving."
"One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a new bike from my husband, Miguel. He bought me one because we live and work in BGC, and he thought having a bike would be a fun way for us to get around. I’m really grateful he thought of it because it led to so many fun adventures. When there was an art festival in BGC, we did our own bike tour and visited each new mural. Whenever it’s a holiday and there aren’t many cars, we would race each other in the hilly parts. Biking together cultivated our sense of wonder and really strengthened our bond as a couple."
"Accepting God in my life as my Lord and saviour is the best gift I have ever had. I never thought I would be in this position in my life right now. He has brought me so much love and blessings from the moment I said yes to receiving him. I have never been happier and more at peace."
"Every Christmas season I look forward to seeing my family and relatives here and from abroad during our reunions. It may sound cliché but the best gift that I’ve received is the gift of family. It made more sense when we had to go through losing our loved ones from both sides of our family. The past year was so difficult celebrating without them but this year became the hardest when we lost again two of our dearest loved ones. Just thinking of how we would celebrate is something that I can’t imagine and what’s left are just beautiful memories that we had every Christmas. I’ve realized that more than the material things that I wish to have I should always hold on to what matters most and that is my family. It will never be the same without the people we love but we can always make new memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. At the end of the day Christmas is all about the holy family, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the hope that in difficult times a gift of new beginnings and bountiful blessings will unfold."
"The best gift I have ever received is a ticket.. not a Coldplay ticket, not even a Maroon 5 concert ticket but a ticket to Heaven.. and the best part? It is free!
“Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life” (John 3:36).
Since the day I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I started my relationship with Him and that fully changed my life. The more I read His words in the Bible, the more my heart seeks for Him. This has helped me see things in a different perspective in life and resulted to a better relationship with friends, family especially in my marriage.
You are taking your marriage to the next level when you put Christ as the center of your marriage. He never promised us a storm-free life, but He promised us to be there and have a storm-proof life.
You too can also have that ticket!"
"I would say that the best gift I've ever received is the gift my parents gave me when I graduated from college. They let me go on a trip to Bangkok and Singapore with a friend. I consider this to be the best gift I've received as aside from giving me the gift of experience, my parents also gave me the gift of trust. This was the first time I ever went abroad without them and I was really grateful that they trusted me enough to know to make all the arrangements needed as well as spend wisely--they paid for my airfare and accommodation, but I was the one responsible for my pocket money. I've traveled to different places and with different people since then (my parents included), but this trip was special in that it was when I learned that I could do a lot of things on my own. It was definitely the perfect graduation gift."
"I've been fortunate enough to have been afforded a lot of beautiful gifts in my lifetime, but one of the few I hold most value in are my girl friends. I honestly feel I have the best friends in the world - people who share the same views and passion as I do, who set the bar really high - forcing me to always keep up, who are always out for my best interests, lift me up, and make life a whole lot better and definitely more interesting. I honestly wouldn't be half the person I am without these girls."
"Christmas last year when I moved into my new home and the Giver was none other than the One whose birthday we celebrate every Christmas! Best Christmas gift, next to my family, of course!"
"Apart from being married to my loving husband (which has always been my answer by default), the other best gift I've received is the GIFT OF MOTHERHOOD. Motherhood has made me care a lot less about the unnecessaries and care more about what matters to the soul. It has awakened me to so many things about parenting and life in general. It has allowed me to go back to my true being, and authentically listen to my divine core. For that, I am deeply grateful."
"Just in time for Christmas, I was asked to write about the greatest gift I have ever received.
Christmas for many people is a time for giving gifts, merriment and of course commemorating the birth of Jesus our Savior. It took me quite some time to answer the question because honestly, I am not the materialistic type of person, material gifts don't appeal that much to me.
So while reminiscing the past gifts I received, there’s only one thing that keeps coming back to my mind. It wasn’t really a Christmas gift, rather a birthday gift which I gave myself. It was the experience to join the Victory Weekend seminar. It was a one day retreat organized by Victory General Santos City, part of Every Nation Philippines, a Christ-centered Church aimed to Honor God and make disciples. It was an experience that led me to receiving the greatest gift ever.
Why was it the best gift I have received? I consider this as something that satisfied a psychological and spiritual need. As a child who grew-up with an absentee father and no father figure to guide me, and with a mom who rarely had time for us because she had to work double time to sustain our needs, I grew up full of resentment, bitterness, and insecurities. Not that I don't have a father, but he was sick most of the time, admitted in a psychological institution for his illness, which is Schizophrenia. So I considered myself as a girl longing for love and belongingness. Add some painful life experiences, failures, lack of positive support system, and defective coping skills to my negativity and there you have it, a very good equation to create an unhappy earthling.
It was part of human nature to long for love and belongingness, yet I have failed to find it in people. Because people are meant to fail us, hurt us, derail us, or even destroy us. That is because people are imperfect and naturally selfish. Previous experiences of betrayal of trust, lead me to become quite an anti-social person. I was quite used to being alone. I don't like social gatherings, I don't easily make friends, I don't trust easily. But it was all meant to change when I started having my own family.
When I became a parent, my insecurities skyrocketed and became more evident. Being a parent entails you to become more generous of yourself and I really struggled with it. I was thinking, how can I give when my own cup is empty? It brought out the greatest insecurity within me and I felt helpless and hopeless. Thus my journey of seeking an answer to my problems became more urgent.
Since 2008, I have been attending Victory Christian Fellowship's Sunday service, all because my family were members of the Church. But it was in 2012 when I finally became active and attended their small group sessions. It gradually opened my eyes to what I have been missing all along, a deep relationship with Christ and a real understanding of His love for me.
In May of 2015, finally I said to myself that I won't celebrate my birthday with the usual dinner with family. I saved up for that day so I can attend the Victory Weekend and finally have my Water Baptism. That was my gift for myself, because I have long desired to be finally set free from my sinful and negative bondages. That day, I was in for a surprise.
That day, I learned that I had been miserable most of my life because I had been given a gift that I failed to notice or even appreciate. It was God's gift of Salvation through Jesus. Although I knew that it was freely given to me, I felt that I was unworthy of that gift. That gift was grace which is freely given but it should also be freely received. What I failed to do most of my life was to freely receive that gift, claim it, cherish it and be grateful for it.
It’s near Christmas and I guess, this season reminds us of God’s gift of Salvation that was through Jesus Christ. No one deserves it because all of us are sinners in God’s eyes, but through Jesus Christ our sins are washed and by receiving it we are saved. His birth, which is what we are commemorating, is the fulfillment of God’s promise of giving us a Savior. That day, I chose to receive God’s gift. And yes, Jesus was the greatest gift I have ever received."
"The best non-material gift I ever received is the time and attention my husband devoted to me during a very difficult moment I was going through. For an extremely busy man, he chose to stay by my side to hold my hand and just be with me. His quiet and gentle affection was so pure it felt that Jesus never left my side. Although both of us were overcome with inexplicable grief and sadness over the loss of our rainbow baby, I know that i had in my arms the best gift ever-- the power of a loving and praying husband. I am grateful to have him as my safe harbour during the storm."
"The best Christmas presents I received were from Santa when I was a kid. I would be ready with my letter by the start of December, which included my case on why I deserved to be given a gift because I had been a good girl all year, and of course my list of toys and Sanrio stationery I'd like to receive. Every morning I'd check if Santa had already gotten my note from my stocking. I'd get very excited once the letter is gone and even more excited to open my gifts on Christmas morning (the one day I love waking up early!) because Santa would always give me everything I had asked for! I would no longer write Santa letters but to this day, I'd still wake up on Christmas mornings to see my stocking stuffed with a few goodies."
"As cheesy at is sounds, I would have to say hands down, love. It is a gift that takes many forms. It is through love my parents raised me to be the man I am today. It is through love that I've built strong bonds with my friends and family throughout the years. It is through love that I've found a partner I can walk life's crazy paths with. It is because of unconditional love that God has done, and will keep on doing, the things He does for me.
Love motivates me to constantly strive to become a better person. Love teaches me how to look beyond myself and my own needs. Love helps me push through and reach for things that I would never dream of achieving all alone."
"The best gift I ever received are my kids. Life wouldn't be the same without them. Kids may be a handful but having them can be very rewarding. It's amazing how you see them grow as individuals but have a bit of yourself in them too and the way they could learn from us and vice versa. That's why they were the ones that instantly came to my mind when I read the question because they are indeed the best gift I ever received."
"For me, the best gift that i have received this year is being able to jumpstart my career in photography when I got my new camera mid this year. It helped me a lot in terms of being able to deliver competent service and photographs with better quality."
"As i grow older, every single gift I receive from anyone; whether it be small or big, material or non-material becomes the best. Even if it’s a tiny toy out of a cereal box that holds a certain memory and meaning to it, I would be grateful. Although what makes it more special is if it is totally unexpected or a well-thought-out one.
Time with family and friends would always be considered the top of my list. Being one that lives continents away from them since 18, you really realise that any opportunity to be with them is so precious. I would cherish every moment spent with each one of them.
I am also fond of the presents i receive from my patients in the UK. It is definitely a bonus. As I work hard and truly care for them; they would randomly give me presents such as flowers, home baked goodies, thank you cards, a tight warm hug, bottles of wine, a story to tell, little notes that they leave at the reception, and all kinds of surprises. It would really make my day. Not because I’ve received something, but the thought and gratitude they show in their own special way. I would always tell them that the best gift would be seeing them walk out of the clinic elated after their appointments. When that happens, I know I did my job well and hopefully made a difference in their lives."
"The gift of family has always been the best present that I've ever received. I'm forever grateful to my parents for passing the torch.
Having my own family to rear, love and grow old with makes it even more valuable. My heart glows and shines when I'm with them. They are my source of strength and happiness. Everything in life suddenly has a purpose.
We are a family of four. Raffy and I married late and we never regretted it. As our contemporaries share their childrens' work accomplishments on social media, we proudly and happily post our kids' great courage of simply trying their best and achieving the little task they love doing. Rafael is 11 and Celina is 7 yrs old. Yes, it's a long way to go but my family is a gift that can't be measured and it lasts forever."
"The best gift I ever received is my wife, Lyn. She's a blessing from God and the reason why I want to wake up every morning. You might say that it's cheesy if I tell you that she completes me but she truly does. She has her way around things that when I feel that the weight of the world is on my shoulders I can always feel her there with me to lighten the load and when Im on the highest of highs she's always there to celebrate with me. Because of her I will always be thankful to God."