As I am writing this, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Bing Crosby is ringing through my laptop. I love Christmas. Everything about the “Christmas spirit” appeals to me. I get excited when November 1st roles around, because that is when I allow myself to start planning gifts to the people I love and playing Christmas-themed music.
As you probably guessed, though, this post is not just about my love for Christmas, but also about what Christmas really means. Besides a time to remember that our Savior came into the world in a dirty barn, born to a likely frightened teenage girl and her fiance to redeem what was lost due to our sin, Christmas is about giving. It is about giving materially, yes. However, it is also about turning our focus outward. Giving our time, our thoughts, and our love, because we so freely experience His love. This giving spirit can show us a lot about how to live life with an open hand all year around. There are a lot of ways to experience this holiday in a way that changes the world. Last year, I gave a lot of my gifts through the Global Gift Guide, which I highly recommend. This year, however, I am giving more personal and sentimental presents to my loved ones. That kind of gave me a materialistic view of the holiday season for a while.
My church’s participation in Operation Christmas Child is helping to change that, however. It is a great way to not only make a small impact globally, but also to momentarily turn our focus outward, which is something that I definitely need. Basically, you fill up a shoe box with things for a child that will not get another Christmas present. It is such a small action, but that can make a huge impact since so many people participate in it each year. Also, it can make a huge impact on your family or friends because if you all shop for the shoe box together, it serves as a beautiful reminder that Christmas is not about the “Christmas spirit” but about recognizing the greatest gift of love ever given, and choosing to reflect that love to other people. So, filling up a shoe box has saved my Christmas because it made my Christmas less self-centered, and happier to celebrate.
I hope it can do the same for you.