There is seldom the need to guess what the content of a Reyes family Christmas present is. It's a book, what else? Some people take that as fact, and some consider it to be a boring fact at that. Yet behind that fact is a simple story over the years.
My parents began to give books as Christmas presents once upon a time when they had access to good Christian books from the United States. It was an experiment, and somehow, it worked enough for them to try it again, and again, and again.
Since then, it has become a tradition. Every year, the family would visit OMF, go around different book stores, or order books on the internet. Then it would be time to list down everyone's names and their corresponding presents, wrap up the books, and label and give away to our heart's content. It is a very happy tradition for the bookworm me.
This tradition comes with its conveniences. We don't have to visit many places to do our Christmas shopping. My mother and I don't need to learn to wrap anything other than books. The price bracket of books is just right for the economic position of a pastor, not too much and not too little...and so on and so on. Yet behind all the conveniences, there is a mission that we hold close to our hearts.
Every year, choosing books becomes a responsibility for our family, a duty that we take on with passion and delight. Whether we are surfing an online catalogue or going through a bookstore, there is a certain excitement in trying to find the right book for every individual. Sometimes, we choose a book because someone would love it. Sometimes, we choose a book because it addresses the very need of someone (and silently wonder if it would offend). And sometimes, we choose a book because it entails the hopes that we have for the receiver.
There are people who seem suited out for so many books, and we have a hard time choosing. There are also people who wouldn't seem to read anything we gave, and we scratch our heads. It's all part of the package.
Over the years, we've had different responses to our presents. There are people who smile every year and say, "Yey, I'll have a book to read again." There are others who set it aside as soon as they get home, knowing that it's something they wouldn't use anyway. There are also people who tell us they count upon receiving our devotional books every year, and they even use those same materials to lead their employees in Bible Studies.
Some people think the system is wonderful and meaningful, some others consider it strangely impersonal. Yet regardless of the response, we shall continue with our tradition.
It's not because of convenience, nor because of affordability. It's not because of tradition's own sake. Why do we give books for Christmas? Because it is our mission, our passion, our particular way to show how we care.