Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Winter begins (usually) on December 21st and then we have Christmas. A fitting close to a (hopefully) good year and a nice respite from the daily grind as we prepare for yet another year. It seems to have been positioned at just the right place on the calendar. "for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7, emphasis mine)
Well, God loves everyone. What Paul is saying here is that God loves it when we give out of "the riches of [our] liberality" (2 Corinthians 8:2). I draw a Christmas card every year and have since 1999. The marginal cost of the card stock and printing fee is nothing compared with the joy on people's faces when they receive something that was handmade (albeit photocopied, nicely) for them. The maxim "it is more blessed to give than receive" (Acts 20:35) is proven time and again and consequently, I look forward to this time of year for that reason above many others.
"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)
I bring up this point to say that we, as Christians, are celebrating Christmas for a specific reason. The birth, the inception of Jesus into this world, to live and then die for us begins—at least contemporarily—with Christmas. Before I go any further, please dispense with the jargon and nonsense disputing the "actual" birth of Jesus, when He was born or if He was even born at all. As well as how His birth, life, death and resurrection are somehow repeated throughout history and other "myths", thereby dilluting the efficacy of Him as human and as God. Thank you. Moving forward, I would like to say, citing the first line at the top of the page and also the comment from Paul, that if God loves a cheerful giver, doesn't it follow (preceed?) that God loves a cheerful...getter? And by getter, I mean those who get (i.e. purchase) the gifts that they in turn give to loved ones. Walking through the mall today and another store, I noticed the countenance of many people who were consumed with the atmosphere of spending frenzy that permeates much of American culture and society around this time. They didn't seem like they were mindful of the overarching truths regarding the season. I understand that these topics I'm touching on have been hammered out for years now. And I understand why we say "Happy Holidays"—so as not to offend someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas (I really wonder how offended the average individual who didn't partake of Christmas would be if you told them Merry Christmas with a pure motive)—but walking through these places with a friend, I felt like raising my voice and reminding them why they're doing this at all. Then again, it's not really my thing to draw attention to myself in spite of yelling "Jesus" above the fray. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men (and women, and elves) unto me (John 12:32). How does that phrase go? Oh yeah: Jesus is the reason for the season. And there is exponentially more joy to be had (year round) by celebrating Him and giving from that motive. Yes we're busy. But we can make time.
One simple gift per recipient, handmade if possible. A card that says you love someone. Bake some love into a batch of cookies or a pound cake. I'm not trying to tell you what to do. What I am saying, however, is to please, please maintain and cultivate the joy and wonder of what it means to receive the most precious gift that anyone possibly could: The Lord and Savior, the Creator, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas! "Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account". (Philippians 4:17)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (teachability), temperance (self-control): against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22)