Last Friday I spoke at a ladies Christmas dinner at Church of the Living Christ in Ojai. I recalled my very first Christmas in the USA, back in 1989.
Oh, how I marveled at all the gifts, the ribbons and the bows, I had never seen such things in my life... well, only in the movies! Over the years I have learned that, somehow, it is not all glamour and glitter around Christmas. I saw people running around in desperate search for the perfect gift for uncle Larry (who never says thank you) and for sister-in-law Lorna (who returns her gifts first week of January). I noticed stress levels going up in the month of December and traffic (at least here in Southern California) turning into a hectic stream of cars rushing by. I even heard people say (believe this or not): I'm glad when it's over.
Laughs from the audience...
It doesn't matter how we look at this, there is one thing we all know for sure: If this is the way we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it does NOT please God! Just this week I received an e-mail from friends saying: skip the gift, let's give to charity. I am sure that is one way to make Christmas more meaningful and joyful. But maybe your family wants to do the gift giving, so let me suggest the three things I talked about that evening:
- God loves a cheerful giver. Not just when we give to Him, but also when we give to others. If you can't give cheerfully, don't do it! Grumpy shopping for your loved ones doesn't make sense. It is not the gift that counts, but the attitude behind it.
- Stop searching for the 'perfect' gift (whoever made that up needs urgent prayer!) for the people on your list. It does NOT exist! You tried for years... right? The perfect gift does not exist in the material world, no gift can make someone really feel better, or happy, or ease their pain or make them appreciative. We are like the little child playing with that FisherPrice toy, trying to push the square block into a round hole, it is not going to work! We are trying to fulfill emotional and maybe even spiritual needs with material stuff, it won't fit! Buy something you love giving! It is not the gift that counts, but the attitude behind it.
- Whatever gift you buy, add a personal note to it as an act of kindness. I don't care who you are and where you are in your life, every person on this planet needs a kind word! Write something like: I had fun shopping for you, Christmas would not be the same without you, thank you for your awesome cooking, thank you for opening up your house, I just love your humor... well whatever, anything that is kind and that comes from your heart and that shows love to the other person. I promise you it will change the atmosphere! It is not the gift that counts, but the attitude behind it!
Hope this helps!
PS: make sure to read Heather Sunseri's post on Christmas too!!