Merry Christmas to you all!! This time of year can be difficult. Many have materialized Christmas. They rush around to buy the best and often the most expensive gifts for their loved ones. They spend thousands of dollars on gift cards. Many wrack up big bills on their credit cards and spend money they don’t have. Why do people go overboard on material objects? Christmas joy is not material gifts. It’s the gift of Jesus and the gift of a father who loved his children so much he gave us a king to save us from sin.
When I was a child, my family never had a lot of money. My parents struggled to just feed us. Mom and Dad told us to write out a Christmas list, but because they didn’t have a lot of money, to help Santa out we would each get three gifts. After Christmas I heard about kids getting an abundance of toys, but I was happy with my three. We didn’t need a lot of presents to be happy. Most importantly, my parents put Jesus first and they gave us endless love. Material things weren’t important even though we enjoyed getting gifts. The true joy of Christmas was more than the presents.
This year I’m struggling a bit with Christmas. Every Christmas since I was a baby I spent time with my grandma. When I was a child, my family and I went to my grandparents for dinner and we spent the whole day there. When my older sister started having children, my mom began making Christmas dinner and after dinner we went up to my grandparents to give them gifts and spend time with them. When Grandpa passed, Grandma started having Christmas dinner with us. When Grandma was placed in a nursing home, my husband and I began to bring her Christmas cookies and a poinsettia.
Since I was born, I never spent a Christmas without my grandma. This will be my first year without her. I feel lost and sad. Grandma was always the most faithful believer in God. She loved God first, then family and friends. She practiced God’s teaching in her daily life. On Christmas she put Jesus birthday first. She gave all twenty-seven of her grandchildren and all eight of her children the best gift of all, love from deep within her heart.
When I was a kid sometimes there were elderly ladies joining us for our family meals. Grandma couldn’t let anyone be alone on Christmas. In the nursing home she offered some of the cookies we brought her to the other residents. She gave endlessly. She gave with a smile and endless hugs. She even hugged strangers. In her eyes we saw Christmas joy. Through her faith we found the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas joy isn’t the material gifts. Yes, the material presents are fun to get, but the gifts money can’t buy are much better. Wise men brought baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrhh, but the ultimate present was given by God. He gave us the gift of his undying love. He gave us his son, a son that died on a cross to save us from sin, a son who walked the earth healing people, preaching, feeding many, and much more. What an awesome gift!
We as humans can’t give a present so wonderful as that, but we can give from the heart. We can take a minute to give a hug, put on a smile, give a warm greeting, make a stranger laugh, and so on. My grandma did those things and I try to do those things, too. I give customers and fellow employees hugs, I joke around with customers, and I smile even when I feel like falling over. Grandma smiled even when she was in a wheel chair, she gave when she had nothing to give, and much more.
Christmas joy isn’t in the material gifts you give. It’s the presents you give from the heart. So tomorrow while you’re opening up your presents, stop and think about what gifts you can give from the heart. Invite someone who is alone over for dinner, make a call to someone you haven’t called in a long time, give a hug, and much more. Spread Christmas joy to everyone by giving from the heart and celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
This Christmas I’m giving not only material gifts, but I’m giving presents from the heart. I’m honoring Grandma’s memory by putting a poinsettia on her grave and sharing my love with others. This Christmas the light of Jesus is shining all around me and Grandma is smiling down from heaven.