I'm not sure about you but in my world, the Christmas season can become very hectic. Events, parties, deadlines, shopping... All of the running and doing can easily rob me of the Christmas spirit if I'm not careful to protect my heart during this joyous season.
I've come up with a way to keep my focus where it needs to be - on Jesus and on others. It is after all a season of giving, a season of hope and a season of joy. So why should I let all the "doing" steal that from me?
Many years ago, I was given a very sweet gift for Christmas. Some dear friends of mine who are more like brother and sister, gave me two tickets to see the Houston Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker. I had never been before and this gift was made even more special by the fact that their daughter, whom I had been helping take to and from performances, was in the ballet that year! I was thrilled to be able to see her perform and to attend for the first time.
It had also been an especially difficult holiday season for me. It had only been a couple of years since my mother passed away just a week or two before Thanksgiving, and I was working two jobs just to pay bills. Things were difficult so gifts were going to either be handmade or not at all.
It wasn't hard for me to figure out which friend I would take to see the ballet with me. It was someone who knew this family well and who would also be excited to see my little friend perform. It also made deciding what gift to give this friend much easier.
However, my solution turned into a dilemma as this thought entered my mind, "How can I give them something which costs me nothing?" It was after all Christmas - the defining moment in the history of our world when the greatest Gift ever given departed heaven and made His appearance on earth. What was given on that day and in His years on the earth to come, was very costly. Some serious thought went into that gift!
I mean, I know this sounds like an easy solution - free tickets equals a free gift, but not for someone who really thinks about what to give others and who loves to give. I was really torn about this until I realized something very sweet. Knowing where I was financially in that season of my life, the Lord made a way for me to give a dear friend, what I most likely would've given them anyway had I been able to afford it. That's our God. He's a giver of good gifts!
So back to my solution for keeping Christmas in my heart in the midst of all the business and stuff... I'm starting something new this year and I hope that you will join me. It's an experiment which I think will change my attitude and keep me centered on Jesus when I'm being pulled in so many different directions at this time.
Every week from now until the end of the year, I plan to give something to someone in my sphere of influence, who least expects it. By give I mean I will hand write a note, make a treat, do something for them, give a word of encouragement or bless them in some way. This could be anyone from the guy I pass on my way to church each Sunday who sells newspapers by the road. We always visit briefly or at least wave to each other. Perhaps there is something I can do to bless him. It could be a neighbor or someone I know but seldom get to visit with. Perhaps they'd like to have coffee and have someone to share their story with.
For me, giving for the right reasons helps to put everything else into perspective. It makes me aware of my own self demands and just how insignificant they can be in light of meeting someone's need or making their day with so small a thing, such as a hug.
So won't you join me this Christmas? Let's forgo the rushing, and stressing, and hurrying and instead, let's amp up the giving, and blessing, and smiling. You never know what just a smile from you might do for someone who really needs one.