Christmas. It is my favorite holiday, and merely one day away.
The economy has left so many people, including me and my family, with a leaner Christmas than normal. At times throughout the past month I've had bouts of self-pity, wishing I could lavish things on my wife and other family members. But God has been reminding me that the greatest gifts I can give are not material in nature.
Tonight at the factory job (I do that three nights a week) I wished many of my fellow employees Merry Christmas. I was horrified by the number of responses I received, like: "I can't wait for it to be over." Or, "I don't have the spirit for it this year." But mostly what it boiled down to for everyone was that they couldn't buy all the gifts they had hoped to.
We are such a materialistic society. We are such a selfish and ungrateful people. God has given us so much and, yet, what is our response? "I can't buy Johnny the Xbox this year... this Christmas isn't going to be the same."
Seriously, that is the kind of thing I heard people talking about. It is as if (and I believe it is probably true) the child's expectations are purely material. They have not been raised to believe or recognize, with any accurate and fair judgment, that the act of giving is of far greater value than the gift itself.
But on the part of the giver of the gift, there is also a lesson to be learned. And one that I am glad God has chosen to make me realize again. For if I do not buy gifts at a small sacrifice in time and money, what value do they have? What benefit is there for the giver's soul? Everything we do in life can be an act that pleases God and giving is an art that we must master. For, in order to emulate Christ, we must give joyfully and even eagerly, anticipating the reward of seeing someone else receiving that which brings them happiness (even if that happiness is but brief).
So, this Christmas, remember that Christ laid down his life with joy, seeing our salvation as a great enough reward for his sacrifice. And give to others with the same heart as His.
Have a very blessed and merry Christmas, everyone!