As a kid, I couldn’t wait for Christmas. We’d gather at my grandparents’ home on Christmas Eve and there would be gifts and gifts and gifts. Whatever I wanted that Nannie and Papaw could afford, I got—train sets, aquariums, telescopes, plastic models of planes and the Space Shuttle, and anything else I would want. And, Papaw always gave us a $50 bill so we three boys could go and get whatever we wanted. I cannot fail to mention the socks and underwear we always got from Uncle Larry and Aunt Brenda (as a father, I can now appreciate that gift!).The only downside to Christmas at Nannie and Papaw’s is that we always had to eat before opening gifts—chili and sausage balls and chocolate pie. But, after we ate, we got presents galore.
Then, on Christmas morning, Santa would have been to our house and there were more presents under the tree—yes, whatever we wanted that Mom and Dad—oops, Santa, could afford. Then, after Christmas, there was the visit to my paternal grandparents’ in Indiana and more gifts. Oh, how I loved Christmas!
As an adult, I’ve learned that giving gifts is far better than receiving them. It is, after all, “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Watching my sons’ eyes light up as they open their gifts. At Tammy’s parents, we open gifts one at a time so that her Mom and Dad do not miss a single smile as the wrapping paper is torn off the box. At my parents, Dad will be handing out gifts, but we adults watch our children open their gifts before we start. Oh, how I love Christmas!
As much as I love to see faces light up with joy, I hate Christmas shopping. In fact, my wife has just about banned me from going with her to Christmas shop—when your husband can barely walk, it’s no fun for him to slow you down. Although I don’t do a great deal of Christmas shopping now, I’d like to offer some suggestions for inexpensive Christmas gifts you can give your friends and loved ones:
It costs absolutely nothing to give your family your love. A love which sacrifices. A love which forgives. A love which serves. A love which seeks the best for another. A love which models Jesus’ love. A love which models 1 Corinthians 13.
Families aren’t always the picture-perfect, harmonious relationships we would wish. Families are composed of imperfect people who sin, who offend, and who slight. But, emulating the example of Joseph with his brothers, let us seek to forgive.
Families are not only bound by blood and marriage, they also share a common heritage. Each of us have family traditions we followed as children—whether we left some special treat for Santa (a Big Mac in my family) or ate special foods (chili for me) or gathered with certain special loved ones (my Papaw’s family). Each of us have traditions we follow now, and I imagine that in some way you’ve tried to incorporate your childhood, nostalgic memories into your own families.
As marvelous as those traditions with loved ones are, the most important heritage we can pass to our children is a godly heritage. Joshua told the Israelites, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15). May we dedicate ourselves to passing on the heritage of a house which serves the Lord!
Life goes at a hectic pace for most of us, and the Holidays create more activities and appointments. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy—far too easy—to respond to our friends and loved ones in an unkind manner. But, we need to give the gift of kind speech: “ Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
There’s nothing greater you can for your friends and loved ones than remember them in prayer. You can thank God for the richness with which they bless your life. You can prayer for God’s bountiful blessings upon them. God has great power, and he will answer every single prayer in accordance with his perfect will.
What are you giving your family this year?