Most people have a few things that make Christmas special to them. Here are a few of mine.
The spirit of giving
I love the spirit of giving that permeates Christmas. It’s often a time when even the least generous people become more giving. It’s a time when children can learn the joy of giving as they share what they have. It’s also a time when everyone can give something, whether they have a little or a lot, and find reward in doing so.
Giving was always a part of Christmas for me, from the time I was small. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter. A few months before Christmas, the families in our congregation would buy boxes of gelatin or instant pudding, one box for each member of their family. We would empty the boxes of their contents, wrap them in Christmas paper, and cut a slit in the top to make a mini piggy bank. In the months leading up to Christmas, we would each save what we could and add that to our personal Christmas bank for Jesus’ birthday.
Then during the Christmas Eve service, each person would take their little box wrapped in Christmas paper and filled with whatever money they had saved and place it under the tree as their gift to Jesus. The money would be sent to the missionaries our church supported.
We did this every year when I was a child, and it was a tradition that became very meaningful to me. It helped me remember that when we give to others in need, we are giving to Jesus.1 It also taught me to give what I could, because that’s the true spirit of Christmas.
I love the fact that Christmas is a time when talking about Jesus comes more naturally and is often more appreciated, even amid the commercial aspect of the holiday. Because much of the world celebrates Christmas in one way or another, it’s an ideal opportunity to share “the reason for the season” with those who haven’t heard. It’s the perfect time to explain that Jesus is God’s gift of love, sent to bridge the gap between God and us; that He is “the way, the truth, and the life”2 and “the door” to salvation.3
I love how Christmas gifts carry a little bit of the giver with them. I think my upbringing gave me a pretty practical and pragmatic view of gift giving. When I give a gift, I try to give something that is tailored to the recipient and will hold special meaning or value for them. It sometimes takes more thought and creativity to come up with something meaningful, but those are the gifts that seem to be the most appreciated and remembered. As Henry van Dyke said, “The finest Christmas gift is not the one that costs the most money, but the one that carries the most love.”
Get-togethers and activities
I’ve always loved gatherings with family and friends at Christmastime. When I was growing up, all of us children participated, either in our church’s Christmas play, or by singing Christmas songs or reciting poems.
It’s a precious gift to gather and do something special with those that you love at Christmas, to share spiritual fellowship of some kind, to be together in one place celebrating the One who is so worthy of celebration. It doesn’t need to be elaborate to be meaningful.
Another thing that I love about Christmas is the music. So many Christmas carols contain deep truths—inspired lyrics set to beautiful music. Any song that brings attention to the Greatest Gift is wonderful.
I was listening to some Christmas carols when a friend who doesn’t speak English well dropped by. She couldn’t understand the words, but she said she recognized most of the melodies. That reminded me that many carols have been translated into various languages, so that the same songs are being sung and listened to around the world.
Many years ago, I attended a Christmas Eve candlelight Catholic mass in Israel, celebrated in Arabic. It was beautiful to worship with the Christians there, to hear the same songs I knew and loved, even though I couldn’t understand the words or sing along. Enjoying the beautiful carols with those fellow Christians was heartwarming.
A lot of people like Christmas lights, but I really like them! And I enjoy when the trees and bushes in people’s yards and around restaurants and other businesses are decorated with strings of Christmas lights.
I’m praying that each of you reading this will have a love-filled, light-filled Christmas, and that we will each do our part to light others’ lives with the love of Jesus.
- See Matthew 25:34–40.
- John 14:6
- John 10:9