What is it that anchors us to the joy and good feelings of Christmas? Okay, I know that for some there is no such anchoring, but for most of us it is the “Hap—happiest season of all!” This year as I’ve been looking at Christmas from a little different angle, it has caused me to wonder what the emotional ties are to this holiday.
Of course, as the pastor, I’m supposed to say Jesus is the reason for the season—and few would argue with that proposition. But whether we recognize it or not, I think the secret to the spirit of Christmas is the simple exercise of giving. For the few weeks surrounding Christmas millions of people are planning and creating and sneaking and wrapping and hiding and finally presenting gifts to people they love.
I can more easily remember gifts given over those received. Receiving a gift is nice and fun – sometimes down right amazing. But Christmas giving is a reminder, one with concrete evidence, that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Just think about a gift you gave. You planned. You thought. Then you carefully acquired, wrapped secretly, and then slipped the gift under the tree. The giver’s anticipation of Christmas morning trumps the hopes of the recipients.
I remember some Christmas mornings when one of our children would be so excited to have us, as parents, open what they were giving. They would be so caught up in their gift-giving that we had to go ahead and open their present to us so we could continue opening gifts.
There is a joy unspeakable and full of glory when we give, and Christmas brings this all to life once a year. So what if we kept it going? What if every day, each week, at least once a month we intentionally thought of someone and gave them a gift? It might be some physical object we make or purchase, or it might be the conscious gift of friendship, a smile, an invitation for lunch, a word of encouragement, or introduction to a new friend. Maybe, just maybe, we could extend the spirit of Christmas to the other 364 days this year just by continuing to give. After all, why stop all those blessings that fill the air at Christmas when we could cash in 24/7 on the reality that it is more blessed to give than to receive? And maybe the spirit of Christmas will follow us through the whole year.