The most important thing

—A Christmas adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13

If I decorate my house perfectly with holly, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls, but do not show love, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, sing carols in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the tree with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. DVDs will get scratched, toys will be forgotten, scarves and hats will be lost, a new PC will become outdated, but the gift of love will endure.

As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way within the family.—Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008)

Give a gift of laughter,
Give a gift of song,
Give a gift of sympathy
To last a whole life long.
Give a cheerful message,
Give a helping hand,
Tell your weary neighbor,
“Jesus understands!”
Give a newsy letter
To a far-off friend;
Give a garden flower
With the book you lend.
Wash the supper dishes,
Help to dust the room;
Give a prayer to leaven
Someone’s hour of gloom!
Give a gift of sharing,
Give a gift of hope;
Light faith’s gleaming candle
For the ones who grope
Slowly through the shadow.
Sweeten dreary days
For the lost and lonely.
Give yourself, ALWAYS.
—Margaret E. Sangster (1838–1912)