"Once in our world, a stable had something in it
that was bigger than our whole world."
- C.S. Lewis
It was that ultimate gift that still prompts the world today to give gifts. Or at least it should be everybody, "the world that God so loved" who is inspired to celebrate Christmas, to spread love, joy and peace. Too often, we fall short. While we gather around festive tables or a Christmas tree with mounds of presents underneath, we sometimes forget the people whose table is empty and for whom a richly decked tree is but a dream, something they see through the windows of rich people's homes.
I'm not saying to stop giving presents or enjoying celebrations with loved ones. Far from it. I'm merely suggesting to be mindful of the less fortunate and seek ways to share with them, so that their Christmas too, may be merry. Even when buying gifts we could be mindful of that, and buy from someone who really needs the support. (Walmart, along with many other shopping centres don't - they'll still be there after Christmas, when you bring your unwanted gifts back to them on Boxing Day.)
For many years, my family has drawn names or did a Chinese auction for Christmas. That way, everybody gets a gift and we don't have to spend a lot of money everybody buying for everybody. Especially when everybody already has everything and more than they need, including many wants.
For a few years now, I've had this dream of doing our Christmas gift exchange differently, with more meaning. We'd still draw names, but instead of giving something to that person whose name you drew, make a charitable donation in that persons name instead. That way someone who is more in need than we are would be blessed, and we'd experience on a deeper level "It is more blessed to give, than receive." I've already strongly suggested a number of times we do this, and come Christmas Eve, I will really push for that. And the donation, or act of kindness, doesn't have to wait till next Christmas; we can do something in that person's name throughout the year. I hope my family sees this as "the best gift" as well. As for this Christmas, may I humbly ask, if I'm on your gift list, consider blessing someone less fortunate instead. Not that I don't appreciate gifts. I really do, I love them, in fact! However, I also find joy in seeing someone with less, having a happy Christmas as well.
Another gift suggestion I have for those of you who still have shopping to do: Stop by Siloam Mission and buy a beautiful work of art by one of the patrons. There really are some talented people in their art program! Earlier this year, I bought a painting there. It was done by a homeless man. I've said before how much I love the quote "Our fingerprints remain on the lives of those we touch." Which of course means when we help those in need. I can say though, that the fingers of this homeless man have touched me deeply, even though I don't even know who he is - maybe I will one day. I'd really like that! I framed this painting and have it proudly hanging on my wall - a constant reminder that "homeless does not mean hopeless". Especially if we actively take part in touching the lives of these people. The art program or anything else at Siloam Mission would not be possible, were it not for people with kind and giving hearts.
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. Acts 20:35