Part 3 of 4
In two earlier blogs I began to share some ways to make your celebration of Christmas a joyful time, instead of a period of tiresome, meaningless rituals that have little to do with the birth of Jesus the Christ, and leave you an exhausted, bundle of raw nerves. You and your family need to first refocus on Jesus. Then you can properly . . .
Focus On Others
1. Emphasize to your kids that Christmas is a time for giving, not getting. Teach them how to be generous toward God by giving to others:
a. As a family, help to serve a meal in a soup kitchen on Christmas Day.
b. Let the kids help to make and serve a special Christmas meal in your own home to which you invite homeless people, or neighbors who have no place to go for the holiday, or people from your church who have no family in the area–single people, elderly adults, or foreigners and aliens residing in your town or neighborhood.
c. Visit someone in a nursing home or a children’s hospital on Christmas Day.
d. Bake cookies for neighbors, shut-ins, or service people (the postman, garbage collector, etc.), considering dietary limitations if you are aware of them, such as those of diabetics.
e. Send a money gift to a Christian organization that deals with world or national hunger, housing for the homeless, etc., in the name of someone on your list who is hard to buy for. Have your children write a card to the person in whose name you are making the gift, explaining what your family did in that person’s name.
2. While your child is still young, teach him/her about personal generosity that reflects God’s generosity to us. Let’s face it: none of us were born with natural generosity. We learn how to be generous by example and teaching from others.
David and I have some friends who encouraged their young son to select a few of his Christmas gifts, before opening them, to take to less fortunate children. He learned to give. Today, as an adult, he donates time and money to such enterprises as Habitat for Humanity. Several other families have their children give some of their toys that are in good condition to children who have none; or to spend some of their own money to purchase gifts to send to a less fortunate child somewhere in the world.
More to come . . . Part 4
©2011, Marcy Alves
edit and re-post 2012
- How Advent Can Be Much More Than “The Christmas Season” (glennpackiam.typepad.com)
- Giving From the Heart for the Holidays (mystiblu.wordpress.com)
I once heard the story of a conquering king in a far-off land. It seems he made a royal proclamation to his newly acquired subjects, most of whom were peasants of the poorest state. He announced that on a certain day in the next month coming, every faithful subject was to appear before his throne and name anything they desired from his generous hand.
The day arrived and a few brave souls made their way into the court. One man asked for a hoe with which to work his garden. Another asked for a blanket to keep him warm at night. A woman asked for a sack of meal, and another asked for grain to plant in the spring. Many, doubting his word, never showed up at all.
Finally a very poor beggar stepped up before the throne. He asked for a parcel of land with a house on it. A barn filled with livestock and a granary stocked with grain. He then asked for a months supply of food and an outfit of new clothes for himself and his family. Onlookers of the scene were aghast! They couldn’t believe their ears! Where did this arrogant fellow come from? The nerve, asking so much when others asked so little!! Surely the king would have him put into stocks and locked in a cell!
“You shall have all you asked, my loyal subject,” answered the king with an air of great satisfaction. “All these others have asked of me as if I were a beggar, but you alone have asked of me gifts worthy of a king!”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know a king like that?! Each year as we approach Christmas, David and I make a list of things we would like to receive and gifts we will give others. My list is always conservative — useful things are usually what I ask for and what I tend to give. David will often ask for fun things, frivolous things, enjoyable or more expensive things – and he will often also give those kinds of gifts.
I have noticed that often our approach to God follows the same line. I will ask for the minimal, the practical, the ordinary things: daily bread, money for bills, seldom anything beyond. And I trust God to supply them.
David asks from the perspective of a much broader vision of what his Heavenly Father can supply. David asks gifts worthy of a King — and I often ask as if my Heavenly Father were a beggar Himself: I ask as if God could be more trusted to give me bread and water than steak and potatoes; as if He wants to give me only basic spiritual necessities, but no rich spiritual gifts to encourage or enhance my life here on earth; certainly nothing of material or enjoyment value.
When God sent Jesus to us, He gave a lavish gift to the world. It was extraordinary — it was costly — the most costly gift ever recorded in history.
PRAYER: Oh, King Jesus, give me a picture of yourself in all your royal robes; allow me to see your generous spirit. Help me to live my life as if I were indeed your own dear child . . . not the child of a beggar, but the child of a King.”