Daniel and I have a shopping game. It's what we call "acceptable gifts," and though is a bit of a joke ("acceptable" usually being a gross understatement, when we're salivating over something), we both have a running commentary on them. For instance, I know that anything from ThinkGeek.com will be sure to make him smile (he's told me so), and he knows that he may purchase anything within reason or my size from Anthropologie and I will glow with uncontainable joy (I've told him so). Those stores are on our list of acceptable gifts. We have wish lists on Amazon, too. And Etsy.com. And the occasional odd humorous idea in random boutiques or chain stores. We simply say, with a laugh or a grin or a really earnest puppy-dog eyes kind of face ... THIS is an acceptable gift. And then we share a secret smile. We're not assuming to read each others' minds. We're letting each other in on the secret desire. We're setting each other up for success, by letting the other person know that we love something, and if they want to one day buy a random present, it would be great if that something was considered. We don't ASK for that gift. We don't DEMAND it. We don't even EXPECT it. But just FYI ... if it comes up ... honey, I really like this. This would be an "acceptable" gift. Just like a trip to an exclusive resort in the Bahamas would be an "ok" trip. Or a million dollars would be "a little" money. Or a Sequoia tree 12-ft across is "kinda old."
So that's a human relationship, but what can we give the Heavenly Father? What's acceptable to Him? After all, we celebrate the birth of Christ and His love in providing a way to salvation for us. How do we express our love to Him for this? Does God have a list of "acceptable" gifts we can offer to him? Yes, but they are all for his glory. None of them are like our peer-to-peer gifts. The gifts we can give him are only as a result of what He has already given us. (I John 4: 9-19). According to John Piper, "[t]he only gifts that we can bring Jesus are gifts of praise, thanks, longing, and neediness."(From an online excerpt from the audio of "Can we give anything to Christ?" on December 26, 2007.)