Thanksgiving is over, and we’ve survived “Black Friday”, “Buy Local Saturday” and “Cyber Monday”. As the Christmas season goes into full swing, everyone continues to shop for those “perfect gifts” for loved ones. I don’t know about you, but the pressure society places on buying and giving Christmas gifts – items that others may or may not even use or want – somewhat diminishes the holiday fun for me.
Those who know me know that I’m no Scrooge or Grinch. I do give gifts (sometimes I even make them), but just not always at Christmastime. My gift radar is active year-round. If I had to find gifts for all of my loved ones within a month, they would not only get less-than-inspiring presents, but I’d go broke in the process. Instead, items come home with me as I happen upon them throughout the year. Occasionally I don’t even wait until Christmas, birthday or some other special occasion. It’s partly out of excitement, but also because tomorrow is not promised, let alone Christmas. (Disheartening thought for a Christmas post, I realize, but there it is.) One of my favorite quotes is: “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Though it may not work for everyone, giving as I feel led is a true blessing!
What we give is just as important as when we give. Honestly, however, do we all really need more stuff? (I’m asking myself also.) Friends and family could likely live without some of what is given, thoughtful and useful as it may be. We are all so blessed; our “first world” holiday problems consist of scheduling conflicts, fighting traffic and discovering that “must-have item” has sold out. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help the growing homeless population, the “working poor” in our communities and the needy abroad. Instead of that game console or gadget, for instance, a more meaningful, inspiring, life-giving gift could be purchased in a loved one’s name. Some ideas: buy a cow or sheep through Heifer International, help sponsor drilling a well in a remote African village, donate to the American Red Cross, or provide meals or socks to the Union Gospel Mission or another organization. Less clutter, no lines, and knowing you’ve helped someone in need…that feeling is priceless!
The Greatest Gift
The greatest gift of all, the One we celebrate this season, is Jesus Christ. He came down from Heaven and wrapped Himself in flesh to live with us – Emmanuel “God with us” – showing us how to love one another. It truly is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), but His example goes beyond gift-giving: He gave His ALL for us. We should pass along this gift by giving sacrificially of ourselves: being “present” for others, caring and sharing our time and talents. While opening our pocketbooks is great, opening our hearts is equally or even more important: showing our love for Him by shining His light and hope into the world (Matthew 5:14-16). One should never underestimate the power of a hot meal, a hug or even a smile.
Here’s a simple poem I wrote about the greatest gift of all, Jesus:
“A Gift to Remember”
The greatest gift ever
was sent from above
Jesus our Savior,
the sacrifice of love.
Power for living
because of the cross.
Reminds the enemy
just Who is boss.
Eternal gift, Jesus
God’s only Son:
Victory is assured
– the battle has been won.
Death is conquered forever,
Hallelujah! Christ is King!
What a gift to remember,
for He gave His everything!
Reason for the Season
Without Christ in the center, Christmas can easily become just another few days off from work, and a reason to shop, party and watch cheesy Christmas movies (guilty). I challenge you, even as I challenge myself: step away a bit from the commercialism of the holiday and pray for opportunities to share the true meaning of Christmas with everyone you care about. Let’s keep Christ in Christmas, and may His love shine through us all year!
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV).
Just for fun, here is a brand new song by one of my favorite artists: Owl City
Humbug (Note: Link will open in new window.)
The singer, Adam Young, has the same struggles with holiday shopping as I do! He has a fun way of expressing it, too.
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