Every weekend after Thanksgiving in my childhood, I would attend Knoxville’s Fantasy of Trees- a Christmas-themed sensory overload for the young and old to delight in here in East Tennessee. For about a week, the Knoxville Convention center would be transformed into a Christmas wonderland reminiscent of the North Pole itself, overflowing with hundreds of decorated trees, activity booths, rides, and the big man himself.
As a child, I always anticipated the Fantasy of Trees for so many reasons, but one of the most beloved parts of the whole event was the not-so-secretive Santa’s workshop area. It was a small room filled with gift ideas for mommy and daddy that were ranging from $1-$5, and I absolutely LOVED getting to shop for tiny tool sets and striking jewelry and other gems for my parents.
I envisioned Christmas morning and getting to pull out a specially-selected package from under the tree just for them to open and ooh and ahh in total delight and amazement over. At a young age, I treasured the giving aspect of Christmas, though I sure did love digging through my stocking and opening a stack of gifts with my name on it.
As I’ve gotten older and am settling into a more adult experience of Christmas, one with a budget and mortgage and a credit card bill with my name on it, I realize how easily skewed this gift-giving season came become if we don’t keep it in check.
It’s also all too easy to lose sight of why we give and to approach the shopping and wrapping and giving of this Christmas season with the wrong perspective; God wrapped up and shipped us the most priceless gift of all, His son. He did it out of His love and joy He finds in us. How about we try to take on a little more of that attitude this week?
With less than one week to finish up your Christmas shopping (thank GOD for Amazon prime!), finding something meaningful for certain people in your life can certainly be stressful. To add insult to injury, the traffic, the crowds, and the lines make the last-minute shopping experience all the more painful.
And in the back of your mind, you’re dreading the December credit card bill, fearing the irreversible damage already done and already promising to be better next year.
Why does Christmas gifting have to be so stressful, so painful, so complicated?
Giving, after all, is something God encourages us to do. And not only does He encourage us to do it, He asks for us to do it cheerfully and joyfully (2 Corinthians 9:7).
This year, as I approached shopping and gifting for my loved ones, I tried not to overthink or overcomplicate, and I’ve sought that same feeling I desired as a child- to give in order to spread joy to others.
This Christmas, let’s put some joy back in the giving spirit.
Joy is a function of gratitude, and gratitude is a function of perspective. You only begin to change your life when you begin to chaneg the way you see."
Instead of letting this time of year steal your joy like the Grinch stealing the roast beast, we should embrace this season as a time to not be too overly focused on price tags and bank accounts (within reason, of course, all things in moderation including our spending) but to focus on the reason we give.
We give because we were given to; that gentle baby in the manger came to exchange his riches and glory and honor for the Cross, the Cross which He purchased our lives with His own spotless and perfect one.
You see, since we have already accepted and unwrapped the Gift of Christ, the other gifts in our lives seem to lose a little sparkle, to hold a little less value. We are treasured, we are sacred, we are His, so what else could we possibly need or want to unwrap on Christmas morning?
How freeing, y’all, to know that I am free to give away stuff to others since all of my value, worth, joy, and riches were already bought and paid for the moment I accepted them fifteen years ago.
I am now free to give, to truly give, without expecting or wanting or hoping for anything in return, to give as Christ so joyfully gave to me.
If we back up for a second and consider how it all went down those two thousandish years ago in that meager, mangy, dank cave of a thing we so poetically call a manger, joy remains at the center of it all. Luke 2: 10 clearly emphasizes to us, “But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people’.
A great joy that will be for all the people.
My friends, that’s what this season is all about- joy, that inner peace that it is well, all is well, with our souls.
Christ didn’t come for us to feel satisfactory; His coming is our joy.
This week as you wrap up your wrapping, keep joy at the center of your focus. Consider the pure delight and joy we feel when we give loved ones gifts that light up their faces; that is how our Lord feels every day when we treat each day with gratitude and an attitude of joy.
Today’s Challenge: Who is someone you could spread a little extra joy to this season? Someone who maybe is easily overlooked or underappreciated? Reach out to them with a heartfelt card, bag of spiced nuts (hmm…I bet you could use this fantastic recipe…shameless plug), or cheerful poinsettia plant to spread a little of that reason for the season to them.
Today's Prayer: Joy to the world, the Lord has come! I come to you with a heart that is thirsty for You and the peace and joy that satisfy my soul. You are my Joy, the greatest gift I have ever received, and I praise you for it. Fill me with your spirit so I may overflow with Your joy, spilling into the lives of others, especially those feeling hopeless, lonely, or lost this week. Help me to remain focused on what really matters this Christmas: Your joyful gift of Your Son. Use me to spread Your love today, this week, and even after Christmas has past. I love you, Lord, and I praise Your holy name. Amen.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!