Five Loving Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas
The Christmas season is one of my very favorite times of the year. Folks seem to be in happier moods. Houses in my little town are all adorned with lights and decorations. Lots of fun gatherings and also creative events (I just made a Christmas gnome out of clay and created fused glass ornaments a week ago).
Also, my heart is filled with joy as I give gifts to family, friends, and those in need. I like the planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the presenting, and the happiness of giving and receiving.
However, and my guess is that you get this part also, with all the hustle, bustle, activities, rush, and commercialism, it’s easy for Jesus to get pushed out of the celebrations. To prevent that, we can be intentional about inserting purposeful actions, so we acknowledge Christ in our hearts and re-present Him through loving deeds and acts of kindness.
Here are a few ideas that you may want to consider. Or perhaps these ideas will spark other actions that can work for you.
One – create a gift box for a needy family.
Sadly, so many families struggle, and this can all be amplified during holiday times. You can contact community service agencies in your area to learn how to give gifts. You can also discover what the most significant needs may be. For example, the agency I donate to serves a lot of single mothers with young children. I regularly give disposable diapers (I purchase them in big quantity boxes, and the agency breaks them up into smaller portions).
A special memory I have was when my children and I shopped for a family in need. We learned of the gender and ages of the children so we could give appropriate gifts. We included Christmas decorations, candy, games, toys, and treats for the mother. We put everything in a big plastic bin that we hoped they could use in the future. I truly believe the love of Jesus was packed in that bin. And even now, decades later, my heart is filled with the kind of joy that only giving can provide.
Two – include a lone adult in your celebration
With families broken and spread out, many older adults find themselves alone during the Christmas season. There may be members of your church or folks in your circles who will be alone and would welcome an invite to your Christmas dinner or another gathering you would like to share.
This has been a longtime tradition, lasting generations in my family. We usually give simple gifts (a book, a box of cookies, a loaf of yummy bread). And then we share our love and friendship with our guests. Truly the joy of the season.
Three – bring cheer to a senior center
A lot of older women and men are alone in their care facilities and would enjoy your visit or your gift of happiness. Filling a few Christmas stockings with little treats can bring a smile to the face of a lonely senior. Donate a movie DVD that can be played in the common room. Bring little poinsettias that can be placed on the dining tables. Teach a craft. Bring your church choir to sing Christmas carols. Contact the centers near you and find out the needs and how you can share love with residents.
Four – serve as a secret Santa
When I lived in a neighborhood near downtown Seattle, an elderly neighbor kept to himself. I would often see him sweeping the sidewalks in the early hours of the day (he lived kitty-corner from me). But he never talked to folks. He just seemed to want to be alone. He never had any visitors. And on the rare times he and I spoke, it was just a simple ‘hello.”
One year (and for the remaining years I lived in that neighborhood), I decided to bless the man with a special “secret Santa” gift. I made a lovely Christmas stocking and filled it with special little treats that I thought he might enjoy. Then just before midnight on Christmas Eve, I quietly snuck up on his front porch and leaned the stocking against the door. I added a little note, “From Santa,” and kept the giver’s name secret.
I never saw him find the stocking. I never heard him ask anyone about it. I don’t think he guessed that it was from me. But I do cherish the thought of him finding the gift, opening it up, and feeling joy and knowing someone was caring about him.
Are there people you can surprise with a loving “secret Santa” blessing? Extravagance isn’t necessary. Little treasures can bring much joy into the hearts of those who may be lonely, alone, and needing the gift of care.
Five – create a Christ-centered atmosphere in your home
Decide to BE love in your home. Play Christmas music (see the videos below for two of my favorites). Bake little treats. Set up a nativity. Watch Christmas movies, including The Nativity Story. Bake a Happy Birthday Jesus cake. Talk about positive attitudes and the incredible gift God gave the world when He sent His Son into the world.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made [f]widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.