walter-richardsonNow there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – I Corinthians 12:4-7

The slogan “the gift that keeps on giving” was used in the 1920’s when the Victor Talking Machine Company’sVictrola was introduced to the world. This disc-playing machine characterized by its concealed speaker horns would later become known as a “record player”… the gift that could keep on giving sound, music and enjoyment. Initially, these machines were not very affordable or accessible. But later with mass production and major advertising almost every home featured a “gift that kept on giving.”

Most gifts, at least those exchanged at Christmas, have limited lifespans and don’t and can’t “keep on giving.” Many gifts cost a lot more than people think they should, but to keep the spirit of Christmas alive sacrifices are made to make others happy. Yes, many people use money they don’t have to buys gifts others don’t really need, just to impress.

But wait. I know it’s Christmas. It’s not too late to give some additional gifts. These gifts that I suggest are always appropriate; gifts that cost no money’ and gifts that can and SHOULD be returned. These gifts are not found in department stores and malls, but come from the heart. And these gifts are more valuable than any that the eye can behold AND they keep on giving!

Give to everyone in your circle of family and friends (and enemies) the gift of LOVE. For love is the cure for all the ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows, and the crimes of humanity. The answers all lie in that one word “love.” Lydia Maria Child, the 19th Century women’s rights and anti-slavery activist said, “Love is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life.”

Give to everyone some LAUGHTER. From the Message Bible, Proverbs 17:22 reads, “A cheerful disposition is good for your health.” Laughter also builds trust. Laughter facilitates healthy dialogue and deep relations. Dr. Maya Angelou was quoted as saying that she didn’t “trust anyone that didn’t laugh!”

The gift of LEGACY is shared every day, intentionally or not. For it does not matter much what you do. It matters more that whatever you do changes something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. Your words, your ways, your wisdom impact other. Give yourself away!

The lost gift of LISTENING needs to be shared with family and friends, especially during this season. Face to face conversations are becoming rare. Conversations have changed from talking to texting. Cards and letters are being exchanged less frequently. Humans are communicating less personally, it seems. And when we do converse with each other, the other’s stories and experiences are less important than our own. So, gift someone with ears and undivided attention. Wow! Have you ever been speaking with someone and, before you can even finish your sentence, they interrupt to share their own thoughts or finish yours for you? No listening. Or perhaps you are in the middle of making an important point and their attention is pulled away as they check their cell phone, send an email or reply to a text message? Give someone your ears, and they will return the favor.

These are varieties of gifts that need to be exchanged and returned!

Dear Lord:

We know that with more love, there’ll be less hatred and separation. We know that with more laughter, there’ll be less crying and sorrow. Help us to love and laugh more. Help us to leave a worthwhile legacy, and listen more actively. Thank you for your invisible but tangible gifts to us, for you are that special Gift that keeps giving! Amen

Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at Website: