Holidays are a time of manic pressure, anxiety, stress, love, and cozy reminiscence. Sounds so odd to add negativity into a sentence about the holidays doesn’t it? When we think of Thanksgiving and Christmas we get goose bumpy and sweet. We think of Charlie and his weird tree, the clay-mation reindeers, the silly snowman who melts, grandma’s jammies and cookies. We sigh. We can’t wait! It is so exciting to hear the music and see the decorations on the street posts. We even look forward to the bell ringer outside. Then comes Black Friday. Did I really spend my Thanksgiving evening on the street freezing in a tent for a camera? Oh yeah, the holidays make us crazy, we then quickly remember.
I hate driving during the holidays. People are lined up to go everywhere I want to go. They make ridiculous driving decisions. People forget what wait your turn and politely nod mean. They forget what sharing and consideration means as well. It is crazy. Those “Remember Jesus is the Reason for the Season” stickers don’t really make a difference out on the streets. Is this an arms race? You would think so in some places. Christmas has become such a stressful time of wonderful. We worry about shopping and budgeting, credit limits, pleasing the unpleasable, keeping up with the whomevers and not offending anyone just in case they get us something, and attending and sparkling, and swirling, and spinning, and well just plain insanity is what we come to.
Now I am not just preaching the typical Christmas is commercialized nonsense. I mean I am just as guilty as anyone else. I love the trees and trimmings and yes I do listen to Christmas music as soon as I possibly can. I strive to bring joy with small packages and ribbon and nothing is prettier than a twinkling roofline and all. I just want to reflect on Christ, holidays, and how they have played with me over the years. Christmas should be heartfelt, full of love, and humble. Christmas should display our love for Christ to others, not our pocketbook right?
Growing up we had nothing. I have lived in many strange places and have had very humble holidays. I will never forget my third grade Christmas. Dad was out of work. Mom did what she could. We had nothing. My mom was very upset that she couldn’t decorate. She sat me down and we prayed for Christmas. She prayed that we would have food, presents, and a nice Christmas. I do not lie that literally hours later someone arrived with boxes full of decorations and a Christmas tree. We didn’t know them and had no idea why they brought them to us. That night, the Pastor of our church invited us to go out for pizza. This was a huge deal because we rarely ate out and never had pizza. I think I ate out maybe five times before that. Later, some church members gave my mom some things to give to me as presents. I received a homemade wooden cradle and a homemade doll that year for Christmas.
It might sound like a Hallmark movie with cheesy background music, but it is true. What blesses me the most is that God has always taken care of me despite the circumstances but he always seems to find the little things that make the difference. Little things like favorite songs come on the radio when I am down, small gifts that come from the most unlikely places, messages on facebook when I need them most are like a ray of light coming straight from His heart. God not only takes care of me but he knows my heart. He knows the deepest depths of my soul. He knows just how to make me smile when I thought I couldn’t. It is the little presents that make the biggest differences in life.
This recent holiday I got to spend in Massachusetts with my husband’s family. What a blessing to have so many grandmothers, fathers, cousins, and aunts and uncles in one place. When spending time with the grandmothers the thing I heard over and over again was what was most precious: being remembered and loved. They wanted to be thought about. They wanted ways to hear and understand their families. Grandmom Peggy loved her church music cd’s and messages. She loved her pictures of the family. She loved her memories. Grammy Margaret loved her cards with handwritten letters full of thanks and family news. How she fawned over the heartfelt letters and pictures. The little things really do make a difference in our everyday lives. If we can help in bigger ways that is nice too, but don’t overlook the little ways to say I love you with easy, fat gifts that have no meaning.
Remember this season that it is truly the small things that touch the heart. Christmas is not about being impressive and fashionable. It is not about competing for the most glory or even out doing the neighbors and colleagues. Christmas is about giving Christ’s love to those around us. As I grasp my ratty blue blanket, I encourage you to bless your friends, neighbors, and family this year with a small gift that is from your heart. I also encourage you to bless those who have nothing to do with you or your family but also need Christ’s love. The least of these need his love the most.
Think of the things that make them smile. Think of the things that are dear and precious. If someone is offended by the price tag, they have forgotten what the holiday is about.
Poems written on handmade paper
Photographs in scrap books or on disk format that can be played in a dvd
Letters of appreciation, favorite memories written down in a book
Handmade scarves, hats, etc.
Favorite fruits and candies
Letter writing kits, fancy pens
Personalized small gifts that represent the person’s hobbies
Personalized Christmas ornaments
Remember, keep it simple and don’t overdo Christmas. Give encouragement, appreciation and love. Make sure whatever gift you give is a representation of those things. Your gift should be a way to tell that person that God loves them and that he has chosen you to relay that message.