December 17, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
The Greatest Gift Ever Given.
You Do Not Really Know Christmas Joy Until You Know The Joy Of Jesus [Church Marquee] He Who Has Not Christmas In His Heart Will Never Find It Under A Tree. - Roy L. Smith Christmas Is A Gift From God That A Man Cannot Keep Unless He Gives It To Someone Else. - Anonymous. The True Gifts Of Christmas By Gordon Botting, DrPH, CHES. For just a few moments, imagine with me this family scenario on Christmas morning: Jon and Susan are awakened by the sounds of their only child, Charlie, racing down the stairs to see what Santa Claus has left him under the Christmas tree. Slowly they open their eyes, wishing they could sleep in a few more moments. It takes them a few minutes to adjust to the new morning. They look at the ticking clock by their bedside with half-sleep eyelids blinking in disbelief. It is only six minutes past six o'clock. However, like most parents, Jon and Susan scramble to the staircase and down the stairs to see firsthand the reactions of their child as he opens his many lovingly wrapped presents. Charlie dives under the tree and retrieves the largest present labeled with his name and tears it open with joyful anticipation. It was exactly what he had wished for - a large Lego train set. Then he opens in succession smaller, distinctively wrapped and labeled presents in which he finds a baseball glove, a new video game and an action figure. His eyes are as large as saucers as he exclaims: "Great! What else is for me?" More tearing and flinging of Christmas paper reveals a coloring book from Cousin Jean, a piggy bank that lights up when you put coins in its top from Granddad and a homemade scarf from Aunt Stephanie. Charlie's inner spirit begins to show itself as he disdainfully throws the last item to one side and hollers, "I don't want this scarf, it's ugly!" Next he opens a radio controlled helicopter and immediately looks over at his father and with scornful brow exclaims, "Not this one! I told you, Dad, the other one was what I wanted!" His mother, Susan, quickly consoles him, "Don't worry, tomorrow we'll take it back to the store and get you the right one." Charlie sulks as he prods through the pile of wrapping paper and finally says out loud and with an irritable voice, "Is this all I got for Christmas?" Well meaning parents give of their time and resources to make December 25 a special day for their children, but unfortunately Christmas morning drama similar to Charlie's happen in too many homes. Here are few suggestions that may help change your children's attitude as to what Christmas is all about and bring back the true Yule-tide spirit. Giving Value To Christmas The first part of your Christmas plan should not be dollars and cents but what spiritual values you would like your family to experience during this season. These could include some or all of the following ways to make Christ the reason for the season: joining your church's choir for its special Christmas evening service, or charitably reaching out to the less fortunate in your community. Why not include the Christmas simplicity that was part of your grandparent's era: each week in December visit a beautifully lighted street in your city, exchange gifts that were not bought in a retail store, eat goodies created in your very own kitchen, and experience the true joy of the season with friends and relatives. What's On Your Christmas Bucket List? Does your child give you his or her Christmas bucket list and inform you that everything is a must have? Sadly, most children have no concept of how much the items they have requested really cost. First, make it absolutely clear that mom and/or dad do not have unlimited resources (like Santa Claus seems to have). Secondly, inform them that you have a set amount of money for their gifts. Thirdly, have them prioritize the gifts on their list and research the prices. This will be an opportunity for you to show them how to budget, how to watch for weekend sales and look for items at discount retailers. If their first item costs more than what you have set, have the child make up the difference by saving their allowance, or doing extra chores. Reach Out To Others Encourage your children to make a list of families or individuals to remember this Christmas season. Bless your neighbors by having your children bake them a variety of cookies and deliver them in nice Christmas tins. Adopt a family from a charity's Angel Tree program and let each member of your family contribute one or two items for the adopted family's basket. Many organizations have an Adopt an Orphan program to which you can give a certain amount of money per month. This type of activity helps keep the Christmas spirit alive throughout the whole year. Give What You Do Best Foster the idea of your children creatively providing giving from the heart gifts. These are gifts of time, energy and talent and could include projects such as babysitting, shopping, gardening, etc. Have them create unique gift certificates which might say: six hours of errand running, one night a month babysitting for the next six months, or four hours of house cleaning. Remember to have a redemption date at the bottom. Start An Annual Tradition The most memorable parts of the Christmas season revolve around those activities that have absolutely nothing to do with money or exchanging gifts. For example, make it a special family outing to pick out a fresh Christmas tree - or better yet, cut your own tree at a local Christmas tree farm. One year when our children were young, each child had a paper house with lots of windows and doors that could be opened and each day during the month of December they opened a window or door to view a spiritual aspect of the true Christmas story. Sharing with others is not normally the first thing children and teenagers think of when they think of Christmas. By instilling the habit of giving when they are young they are much more likely to continue to have a spirit of generosity, not only during the Yule-tide season, but throughout their lives.