Looking for ways to make this Christmas season different?
Where can you find simple ideas to recapture the deeper meaning of the season?
What practical thing can you do that will bring joy back to the celebration of Christmas?
How can you give in a time when giving seems so difficult?
Call it the economy. Call it a re-evaluation of what’s important. Call it a moment of clarity. Whatever your explanation, it’s time to return to the heart of Christmas.
The traditional and popular song “The 12 Days of Christmas” chronicles the sometimes eccentric, mostly lavish and quite generous gifts of a lover to his true love. What if we took the same passion and inspiration and gave creative and meaningful gifts this year?
The lover in the song gave lavish gifts. God gave of Himself. Here are some simple ways to give this Christmas. Some are simple. Some are challenging. Some are truly sacrificial. All take courage.
I tried to make this one rhyme with the first “day of Christmas” in the song. But, it sounded too corny. Here’s the point. Dedicated, authentic, and undivided time with another person is the best gift we can ever give. Friend to friend. Parent to child. Child to parent. Husband to wife. Neighbor to neighbor. Stranger to stranger. The first challenge is to replace giving things, when what we really need is each other. The gift of listening, sharing, and laughing is the best gift of all. When we share our time we tell the other that they matter, are valuable to us and that we truly care.
Our unhurried presence can be a present.
Oh, all right. Instead of “a partridge in a pear tree” how about, “A warm cup to drink with me”. I know you can probably do better. If you can, I’ll post it.
Compared to most on the planet and often in our urban cities, most of us have a lot of stuff. The truth is much of what we have hanging in our closets, stacked in our pantries and stored in our garages is more than we can actually use. A friend of mine meets with a small group of like-minded followers of Jesus and they asked one question: What would it look like to live according to what Jesus taught? Wow. I felt challenged immediately when I heard their quest, and I didn’t even know what they had decided to do.
Here’s one of their steps: If you have two give one away. As an example, I’ve participated on youth teams that have gone to the under-resourced parts of San Francisco. We collected jackets and socks for those in the neighborhood who have no home.
What do you have more than enough of that you can give away?
Or give money to an organization that can leverage your giving with others. Lane County has some of the best non-profits in the nation. Find the one that best fits you and share your treasure and resources with them.
A joyful noise… That’s what my wife calls my singing. I really like to sing. I only lack the gene to do it well. I cannot wait until the radio stations start their annual holiday play list. The music and carols that fill the airwaves this time of the year really stir my soul and fill my heart.
In years past, we would walk our neighborhood and sing Christmas Carols. It has been fun to do the same at a senior care home nearby. Whatever the location, gather with a few others (invite a few that can actually sing) and take the music on the road.
Invite others to join you in giving to one specific cause or non-profit organization. A family in our church coordinated a canned food drive for the local food pantry. They organized the drive at the elementary school they attend. The local newspaper highlighted the good they did and even got an invitation to tell their story on a nationally syndicated TV show. Why? Because it’s so uncommon to inspire others to do something simple together for others who are less fortunate.
Many cities have an annual “holiday” parade. We, as a church, entered a float and collected cans and dry goods for a local food pantry. We spread the word to bring cans and other food staples to the parade. A few youth volunteered to drag a wagon to help us collect. Using our parade float we involved parade-goers in supporting the food pantry.