“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”—John 3:16 (NLT).
Making my annual trip up the attic ladder, I dug out boxes of Christmas decorations. Since my sons are grown, I don’t decorate as much as I used to do. Recently, my youngest son asked if I still had the boxes containing the homemade decorations he and his brother had made at school and at church when they were children. Of course, what mother wouldn’t hang onto those treasures from the past?
This quote from Marjorie Holmes reflects that sentiment. “It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.”
Ever since my son took the box of keepsakes home with him, I’ve pondered on their importance as far as holiday traditions are concerned. Gift giving is one of those traditions. Yet, if you were to ask about a favorite Christmas toy from my childhood, I can’t recall many. It’s been too long. However, I can remember the homemade clothing made with love by my mother. I also recall a Barbie dollhouse she made for my sister and me. It was less expensive than a store-bought one and, as I remember, much nicer.
With the continued pushing back of an earlier Christmas shopping season, it’s sometimes difficult to refrain from getting caught up in the commercialization of the holiday. The Reverend Billy Graham said, “The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.”
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church offers three principles to help us have a more purposeful Christmas season. Recalling the meager circumstances of Jesus’ birth, Warren says, “Keep it simple. Simple isn’t just beautiful—it’s powerful.” To keep it simple, don’t cram your holidays full of activities. “You don’t have to make everything big and complicated,” he adds.
The second principle Warren offers consists of two words: “Be there.” What he means is we don’t have to spend all of our time and money chasing down the perfect holiday. “One of our aims at Christmastime should be showing up in the lives of those we love. Attention says, ‘I value you enough to give you my most precious asset—my time.’”
“Give gladly” is Warren’s third principle. “The essence of Christmas,” he says, “is that we simply and humbly give of ourselves.” And, as Jesus said, there’s more happiness in giving than in receiving. Warren adds, “Giving is (also) a matter of willingness, not wealth; it’s attitude, not amount.”
Keeping the spirit of Christmas alive requires us to focus intentionally on the true meaning of this wonderful season. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.”
Read more from Carol @Carolaround.com
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