When I read the following piece this morning, I was struck by how little I’ve done for others this season. For the past several weeks I’ve been overwhelmed with tiredness, and in that tiredness I’ve become quite self-centred.
While giving certainly doesn’t have to be reserved for this time of year, it might well be”the worst of times” for some folks. I need to remember that and understand that there might be some way I could help, even in the midst of the rest of the busyness.
I always have good intentions, and in the coming year I want to carry through with things I know I should do for others.
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GIVING, NOT GETTING
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” The loudspeaker blared out the joyful lyrics of the familiar holiday song that snowy Christmas Eve afternoon.
Everywhere I glanced, people were searching for last-minute gift purchases, holiday baking ingredients or that one final string of twinkle lights that would make their Christmas downright Norman Rockwell perfect.
However, as I stood in line paying for the ingredients for my assigned Cheesy Potato casserole for our family gathering, a lump formed in my throat. Soon my lips quivered and hot tears fell onto my wind-chapped cheeks.
How can everyone be so happy? Why is the world going on as if nothing happened? My friend Julie died last night leaving behind a husband and eight children who need her. Doesn’t anyone care?
I wanted to scream. And I wanted Christmas to be cancelled that year. There was no holiday cheer in me and I thought the rest of the world should follow suit and just ‘humbug’ the whole celebration.
Our family made it through that holiday. My young children, although sad about their friends’ mother’s death, perked up Christmas morning, eager to open their gifts. My husband and I carried on with our normal life and, over the next few months, tried to help lighten the load of our now widower friend.
Several in our circle of friends made meals on a weekly basis. A college girl offered to clean their home. One of Julie’s sons joined our homeschool for kindergarten a few days each week. Although we still experienced great heartache knowing our friend wasn’t coming back, lightening her husband’s load and cheering the children made us feel as if we were fulfilling the mission God had for us.
Ever since that year, our family has become even more aware of the fact that for many, Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. It is downright painful.
Loneliness looms. Depressions darken. Even suicides soar. While scores of us delight in the season, drinking the sights, sounds and smells, others are numb from pain and despise the season.
And so I’m reminded of what a sweet neighbor of mine once told me, “Christmas is an excuse for making someone’s life better.” She was so right! There are souls waiting to be encouraged and included at the holidays. If only we would cease our own sometimes self-focused hustle and bustle long enough to see!
After that sad season, we’ve made it our mission to reach out at the holidays more than we play the commercialized “gimmee game.”
Christmas is not about getting. It’s very essence is giving.
When our family has been intentional about helping others at the holidays, I feel we’ve been allowed to brighten the lives of many. We sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, decorate homes and address Christmas cards for widows, shop for the needy, bake for the brokenhearted, and often include the lonely in our normal Christmas activities as if they were part of our family.
Because really, they are. Maybe it is your family who can cheer a lonely soul this year.
Let’s vow this Christmas to make someone’s life better, richer in love, and fuller in the comforts of knowing they are noticed and cared for.
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