Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to the decorating, the music, the food, and the family gatherings. The season is special because it’s encompasses giving, kindness, joy, peace, and love.
But the most meaningful part of the celebration is the birth of Jesus–our most treasured gift.
When our daughter was little, it was very important for us as parents to make sure she understood the real reason for celebrating Christmas. She is a lover of books so every year we read the Christmas story together from Matthew, Mark and Luke, celebrating the Christ child’s birth. We watched her perform and sing in numerous church plays and pageants, attended church services, and sat in awe as we worshipped Christ by candlelight on Christmas Eve.
Santa Claus was a part of the celebration too. She wrote letters, hung her stocking, and left milk and cookies for the jolly fellow on many Christmas Eve’s. Waking up the next morning to check out the gifts was the fun part, but she never worshipped Santa as the ‘be all and end all’ of the season. Santa had his place and he was never compared to the Holy One.
Elaborate gifts were never a priority at our house, but we always made sure to provide our girl child with at least three gifts from her list. There were some small bonus items in the stocking, but the number of packages under the tree symbolized the three gifts brought by the wise men to honor the baby Jesus. This had been a wonderful memory and tradition from my own childhood.
Her dad and I also wanted her to experience the beauty and joy of giving to others.
God’s word tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (NIV)
Every year local charities displayed trees with Christmas Angel tags showcasing children across the area whose families needed assistance with providing gifts. We explained to her early on about what it meant to give to others and the joy that these gifts would bring to the children receiving them.
We had great fun shopping for the boys and girls and we carefully selected the items requested. We also packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child through our church, gave secret Santa gifts to children at area schools, and collected and donated food items to those who needed it. All of it done anonymously.
It was during her high school years that she started selecting the Angel tree tags on her own. She worked a part-time job and made the decision to contribute her own money to these worthy projects. She figured if she picked her own names to buy for, then our family giving was multiplied.
Even today, as a wife and mom, her family participates in several gift giving programs–all because of the example she learned as a child. I am so thankful for her compassion and love for others and her giving heart honors God.
As a family we are blessed to help where we can. The traditions continue today and the message remains the same, “It is better to give than receive.” We have lived by that philosophy.
Peter said in Acts 3:6, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (ESV)
Just like the ‘Widow’s Offering’ in Mark 12:42, it’s when we give from the heart that pleases and honors Jesus the most. You see it’s not about wealth and large amounts of money, but instead it’s about selfless giving and putting in everything we have to help others.
There’s a powerful message in teaching children the importance of using their servant’s heart for generosity and giving. It only takes a small act of kindness to make a difference in someone’s life. And when we do, our light shines bright for Him. It’s the gift that keeps on giving…..
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us a heart of generosity and kindness. May our attitudes be the same as that of Christ Jesus as we use our gifts to bless others. Thank you for giving us your words to live by as we bring light to a dark world. May we honor you through our love for all mankind. Amen.