Spreading God’s love at Christmas
“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17
Christmas time is here. For many of us it’s an exciting time that we look forward to each year. It’s a special time spent with family and friends that we love, a time of caring and sharing with others. It’s filled with all of the fun festivities of the Christmas season…shopping, gift giving, decorating, baking, going to see Christmas lights, Christmas plays, school functions, church functions, taking yearly family photos, celebrating Jesus’ birthday…the list goes on and on.. For many of us it is also a busy time of planning and coordinating all of the different activities, the decorating, baking, cooking, cleaning, buying gifts, special church events, hosting, traveling to spend time with our family and friends, taking the family to see Christmas lights, and all of the other many activities centered around Christmas. We all have good intentions and want to make it special for our families, children and loved ones, but if we’re not careful it can really get the best of us and before we know it we’re exhausted and have lost the meaning of this special day.
Keeping the true meaning of Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth and spreading His love to others around us, can be a real challenge. Christmas has become so hectic and commercialized that we can easily get lost in the middle of it. If you take a minute to think back to your own childhood memories or to ask children, you will realize that it’s not about having everything perfect or the amount of money spent, etc. It is truly about the special moments spent with those we love, and special times helping others. The important thing is spending time together, being thankful, counting our blessings and taking time as a family to do a little something for others.
Christmas is a great time to spread the love of Christ with others. There are so many little ways to make a big impact on those around us. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. In fact, some of the best times are spent together making homemade items to share with others. Instead of spending so much money on each other, my family has chosen to spend less and use that money to bless others at Christmas time. Here are some simple ideas that we have come up with over the years to keep quality family time at the center and to find simple, non-expensive ways to share God’s love with others. These family moments have become some of our most memorable, not to mention teachable, moments for all of us young and old.
Gather friends and children, to make homemade Christmas cards to give to someone special or to bring to children and adults in hospitals, to nursing homes or to shelters. Another idea is to take your family to buy an extra turkey or even just a few canned items at the grocery store and bring them to your local shelter. If you have older kids go as a family to help at a soup kitchen or serve at a homeless shelter. Instead of buying expensive gifts, spend time baking together in the kitchen and give those baked items as gifts for teachers, classmates, coworkers and friends. It doesn’t have to be a lot because it’s the thought that counts, and homemade gifts are always more meaningful. There are a lot of great, simple recipes online too that are inexpensive.
Another family favorite is going caroling to friends and neighbor’s houses that are new or could use some Christmas cheer. Also, bringing them a little homemade goodie as a gift lets people know that you are thinking about them and that you care. Our neighbors look forward to it each year. Buy a homeless person a meal for Christmas, or even just a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate to help warm them up and warm their heart. Give your lightly worn coats, clothes, toys, etc. to shelters. Pay for someone else’s meal or groceries that look like they could use a little help or even just offer to help if they are low on change to pay for their items. Look for ways to help your neighbors such as helping them bring groceries in, decorating or shoveling snow off of their walkways and driveway. Take some friends or family friend’s children to see lights in nearby neighborhoods. We love making hot chocolate and a plate of cookies to share while we ride around. It’s a great way to help out a mom who needs a little break, bring some cheer to someone who’s lonely and spread love to families that have lost someone close or are having a hard time during this Christmas season.
Showing God’s love comes in many shapes and sizes, and you don’t have to spend any money at all, especially if you are on a tight budget. There are so many stressed out, lonely and upset people out at Christmas time so it can even be as simple as holding a door for someone, putting up someone’s shopping cart for them or smiling and being kind to other shoppers. Also, being kind to cashiers, servers, and fast food workers and saying thank you to those working late hours at Christmas to serve you and support their families shows God’s love through kindness. Even being mindful as to not to make a mess at stores and putting things back where they belong can show God’s love by allowing employees to go home quicker and spend time with their loved ones.
The list of things that you can do is endless. You just need to look around. You really don’t have to go overboard; kids just love spending time together so keep it simple. The important thing is that you do it together. There are so many fun and easy things you can do together as a family and I assure you those will be the memories that they cherish as they get older and begin to make their own traditions with their families one day.
You can look for opportunities on other holidays and every day of the year to do random acts of love with your family.
So look around and spread some love.
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Dana Marie Bucci
Christian Children’s Book Author and Illustrator of “A Big, Big Love”