Thursday, December 16, 2010

We already have the greatest gift of all

This time of year is suppose to bring joy and excitement. We are to celebrate with grateful hearts and loving compassion for our neighbor. We are to live with cheer and see our cups as overflowing. It is a time to gather and reflect. It is a season of hope.

Sadly, we are living in hard times and I am afraid it is going to become harder. We tend to think of a good Christmas if our tree is lifting off the floor with presents surrounding it. Family filling our home and of that perfect dinner where everyone tastes of the fruits of the year and is pleased with everything. We think of those great shopping days with filled bags for everyone we know. We see our door with Christmas cards surrounding the frame. We see parties where laughter is catching. Snow falling and snowmen scattered throughout the yard.

May I just say, this is not Christmas. Christmas is the birth of Christ. It is seeing our Savior as the Light of the World. There is no gift greater than the love of Jesus Christ. We already have the most spectacular gift in Him. We find life and life abundant. All those other things? They are just added bonuses. We place too much emphasis on purchasing the right gifts and feeling bad when we cannot.

Whatever happened to inviting your neighbor to dinner? What about a home made gift? What about just spending the day cherishing your family? Looking around and seeing all the Lord has done for us. I think it all comes from perspective.

We have had those great big Christmas mornings where presents were bountiful and those like this year where they are not. I have learned it isn't about the gifts we buy. It is about the gift that was given to us that we cannot purchase.

I remember a Christmas when my dad was on strike. I was just a little kid. My parents couldn't afford any gifts. They felt so terribly bad they sent me to my aunt and uncle's house. They had a large family. I remember the tree and the house filled with decorations. I remember a gift my aunt gave me. It was a bottle of Avon perfume. We had a dinner and many laughs. It was a special day, but you know what would have made it more special? Just being with my parents. Just having them be honest and share their heart with me. I would have rather just spent the day at home playing cards or reading a Christmas story together. Sometimes as parents we try too hard and think we must buy out the store to show our children what a great Christmas is.

Just think if we let all that stuff go what our day would be like. Just think if we took our eyes off of ourselves and placed them on Jesus what blessings would flow. We tend to make this day about us and we get all caught up in what we are getting and giving. Instead, why not just be reminded of the gift that God gave us when He gave His Son.

It's when we let go of all the stress and slow down we can see the real meaning of Christmas. Maybe it has taken us a few Christmas' without gifts to realize it really isn't about gifts under the tree at all. Snuggle up warm with your kids and bring a story to life. Share with your mom just how much you love her in a letter written by hand. Open your home and share a dinner with a friend of long ago. Invite your neighbor to your church service. Surround yourself with moments of joy and find laughter in the faces of others. Don't buy in to commercialism and find yourself depressed because you have not. Think of what you do have and make each moment count.

It is this very day we teach our children what Christmas is all about. Might we give them memories to remember for a life time. That tent in the living room floor. That checker game with dad. Baking a cake with mom. Just calling up a friend and saying, "I'm thinking of you." This day is what we make it. It is our choice. Start a new tradition. Might we light a candle and say a prayer. My friends, Christmas begins and lives in our heart. Make this season all about Him and others just might want to know where your greatest gift came from.
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