Restore The Joy – It’s About Giving

My husband and I attended a dinner last week where we met this nice couple who began talking about their four kids and how they wish they could turn back the clock and do Christmas differently.
In fact, they said they are trying to simplify things this year and preparing their kids to enjoy the holiday more – with less. But they are running into opposition from the younger two who say that it’s not fair that their older siblings have been able to get more over the years. Sigh.
Those parents are struggling. And I feel their pain. Right or wrong, it’s hard to untie the traditions we have established and grasp hold of new ones. But we have to try.
Because this is Christmas. And we have to get this right. Not only for ourselves but for the little eyes watching and learning from us. 
The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
So we tell them this about Christmas. It’s not about how much you can get, not about greed. It’s about giving. And that is true, but we need to share with them about the receiving part as well because the two go together.
Through the symbolic giving of our gifts to one another, we celebrate the most precious gift of all – Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.
And when we open our hearts to receive from Him, we are filled with joy.
Because He brings us what we desire most. Life. Hope. Peace.
Gifts that never disappoint.
Gifts that will last forever.
Gifts that humble us because we know we have been given
something we don’t deserve.

And the result is, or should be, that all of this blessing turns us from grateful receivers into grateful givers.

So why do we sometimes get so wrapped up in the trappings of the holidays that we forget it is a holy day? Does joy have to be something we just sing about but have little acquaintance with during this stress-filled season?
Many of us are tired of watching the true meaning of Christmas get tossed around in that mangled mass of shredded paper torn from treasures we bought on November 26th and the credit card company still owns on December 25th. It hurts to see ribbons of regret running all the way through our self-made piles of twisted expectations. 
We know what we have to do. We have to stop draining our bank accounts hoping to fill the empty spaces, these hidden holes in our hearts that cannot be named or seen, only felt.
Mary Hunt wrote a book out of her own painful experience called How To Debt-Proof Your Christmas. She talks about what she learned in this interview. Here’s an excerpt.

“We want people to love us. I’ll be honest. I wanted my children to love me and have the best memories and to be the parent of the year and for my friends to think i was wealthy. All of these crazy things. It was about me, wasn’t so much about them.”

“It was about me.” Those words keep ringing in my head like a Salvation Army bell, demanding my attention. I have to ask myself what I’m doing to keep Christ at the center of Christmas.
To put Him first, and others before myself.
Maybe it’s as simple as this. If we keep our focus on how Jesus paid our spiritual debt we will not feel the need to acquire more monetary debt.
Because we’ll realize we really do have everything we need.
I believe it’s possible to change. To do Christmas differently than we have in the past and enjoy more with less. It might not be easy. We might meet with some resistance. But God, the Great Giver, will show us the way and grant us grace in the process.
 Lord help me remember that when I light the candle of gratitude, greed melts away, the flame of joy burns bright and I learn again what it really means to give. Amen!
Next week, I will be writing more on this subject and sharing unique ways to restore the joy in our gift-giving this season.
Meanwhile, here is one fun idea –
Go catalog shopping with your family and pick out a gift to give to someone in need!

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. ~ Deut. 16:17 #itsaboutgiving