Tis the Season to make jolly! And to give. I love Christmas. For this special holiday I shop all year round anticipating the desires and wishes of my family and friends........and there are many. I love to give. It comes very easily and naturally for me. But every year around this time I am made painfully aware of those who simply don't think to give...or have no desire...aren't in the mood.....or can't afford it. All of which I, personally, find pretty selfish and short sighted. I hear all kinds of excuses......."I'm not going to put that kind of stress on myself this year.", "I can't afford to buy any gifts. The economy has me too strapped.", "I'm not going to buy into the commercialism.", and on and on with what I call "Bah! Humbug! excuses".
God gave us the gift of his Child for Christmas. He gave us Hope, Encouragement, Love, Joy, and Promise. He gave us many reasons to celebrate. For me, Christmas is a celebration of the heart. And in that "heart-giving" both the giver and the receiver are blessed. And that is the biggest reason to give. Going outside yourself........beyond your circumstances.......... and making the effort to give something special to someone else. When I hear someone whining about the injustices, loneliness, and messed up relationships in their life, my first question for them is, “What are you doing to give back to others?” It is amazing how many excuses I hear about how that just isn’t possible. I am convinced that self-absorption is the #1 malady in America today.
Having no money is the lamest excuse of all. Some of the most amazing gifts we have ever received........and given......have been inexpensive home made gifts. Cookies, candles, bread, tea mix, hand made cards, a hand written note of appreciation, a framed picture. Even something from the Dollar store tells the recipient he or she is thought about in a special way. Probably half the gifts I give each year are gathered from garage sales, auctions or Goodwill stores. Those gifts are bought and given with just as much love and consideration as if I was purchasing from Macy’s. Don’t ever tell me you couldn’t afford to get any gifts for anyone for Christmas. That translates into, “I’m selfish and didn’t want to take the time to remember anyone in my life who meant anything to me this year.” Anyone can pick up a 50¢ card at the Dollar Tree and write a simple thank you note of appreciation and love. Or better yet, how about the sweet gift I came home to last night?
While Dan and I were in Ohio for the holiday and no one was at our house, daughter Ashley and her husband Nathan came in and totally cleaned out, added extra shelving and organized my kitchen pantry. They even cleaned out my ridiculously overflowing junk drawer (everyone has one!). I came home to a very pleasant surprise (and lots of love notes stuck everywhere) and all it cost them was their time and their loving hearts and a few dollars for some shelving supplies. This is a gift that will stick with me a long while. Knowing they took the time to plan this while we were gone and have it be a complete surprise said, “I LOVE YOU!” in capital letters! Just about everyone can give something of themselves as a gift. I have known some very poor people who have reached out to show their love and their gratitude to others during the holiday season and felt it was the highlight of their Christmas.
Yes, it takes time. It takes some planning and it sometimes takes a bit of coin. But giving is what Christmas is all about. It always has been. And giving always comes back to the giver in some special way. If you don’t believe it, try making this Christmas the “giving-est” holiday you have ever had. At the very least you will feel the satisfaction of having given back to those who have blessed you during the year. And you may find that God turns that giving into some very real and tangible experiences, relationships and events you never anticipated. And one thing I know for sure is that when you are giving to others, you have very little time (or desire) to wallow in your own self pity or self-absorption. This is a good lesson to remember all year long.