Gratitude Day 544
Tues., Dec. 2, 2020
Matthew 2:11 – When they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, they were overcome. Falling to the ground at his feet they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure boxes[k] full of gifts and presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Gift-giving is such an important Christmas tradition. Once we discover the truth about Santa, we REALLY don’t want to stop believing in Santa … because, well, we don’t want the gifts to stop!
So much effort is put into getting just the right present. But this is changing. Today, gift cards and cash are often more desirable than a beautifully wrapped present. When it comes to gift giving, I am very practical. The item(s) may not super cool or flashy but I’m confident they will be used.
How does Christmas gift-giving happen during a pandemic? Online shopping and shipping. Our poor delivery folks probably can’t wait for Christmas to get here.
Yet, I continue be aware that as more people spend the holidays with just the folks in their household, this also means there potentially will be a significant number of people who will be celebrating the holidays alone. By themselves. Keeping themselves and family members safe.
Yes, it makes our hearts sad. Definitely, we want to keep people safe. But I am confident we all can make the holidays just a bit brighter while keeping each other safe.
Recently, this story was shared. A man recently retired but was not able to have a retirement celebration because of COVID-19. With health challenges, he spent Thanksgiving alone. A couple days before Thanksgiving, a person from the church he attends online called him. The caller discovered the newly retired man would be completely alone on Thanksgiving.
The caller contacted one of his friends and asked if he would go with him to the retired man’s house on Thanksgiving. One guy brought along a pie and the other took a copy of one of his favorite books. They knocked on the retired man’s door, stood outside wearing masks and chatted with him for about 15 minutes. They wished him a Happy Thanksgiving and were on their way.
The retired man later called the church and let them know this was the best Thanksgiving gift he had ever received: a 15-minute visit from two guys he didn’t know, who brought him a pie and a book.
He no longer felt alone on Thanksgiving Day.
This week, I anticipate so many people being alone. While this IS the wise choice, it’s also an exceedingly difficult and disappointing choice. My heart goes out to those who will celebrate Christmas as if it were just another day.
But it isn’t. It’s the birth of the Savior of the world.
On this Giving Tuesday, may I encourage you? Who is someone you know who will be alone this Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day? Who is the recently retired person who stayed home alone that you know that could use a little cheer on Christmas Day?
Could you make a quick drop-in visit with some cookies to extend Christmas cheer? Or if you are the person who will be alone on Christmas Day, could you make a list of others who know who will also be alone? Could you call all those on your list and simply wish them a Merry Christmas? You could time it just right and eat your meal or dessert together with the person on the other end of the phone.
If you aren’t sure you know someone who will be alone this Christmas, maybe you could prepay for someone going through a drive through. Or put some money towards the next person in line while at the grocery store. How about driving by someone you hold dearly in your heart and honking the horn as your way of wishing them a Merry Christmas?
It’s the little things that we will remember this Christmas: the extra step someone took to make you feel loved. Whether it’s a plate of cookies, a store-bought pie or a favorite book, the size of the gift isn’t important. It’s making the extra effort to remember someone who might be struggling. Depressed. Lonely. Feeling very isolated.
If these words describe how you are feeling these days, choose to do something that will get you out of the funk. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Set-up a ZOOM or Google Meet session with your BFF. It’s easy to expect someone else to bring joy and happiness into our lives when it truly is our own responsibility to ensure this happens. If and when someone does it for us? Well, then, this is just the icing on the cake.
Gift-giving is rooted in the presents the wise men presented to Jesus when visited. Gold, frankincense and myrrh weren’t very practical gifts. Most biblical scholars feel these gifts symbolize WHO Jesus than being ready-to-use gifts. For the wise men, these gifts were important. Significant. Meaningful. And certainly, Mary and Joseph treated them similarly.
The size of the gift is never as important as the meaning. The thought. The effort. The backstory. It’s not easy for those who will be alone this holiday to share this with others. I pray we will error on the side of doing too much to make someone feel special this week. All it took was a pie and a book to make a newly retired guy feel pretty special. Let’s see if we can all replicate this little story this week as well.
For the opportunity to give a simple gift that will make someone feel special and loved this Christmas, I am grateful.
Dear God – Many of us are bemoaning cut-back Christmas celebrations this week. Yet, I pray we discover ways that this can be a very meaningful Christmas. Place on our hearts the name or description of a person that we can bless this Christmas with some small gift of kindness. Amen.
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