By Kelly Carr
A friend was visiting with a minister back at the end of the summer. Upon walking into the office, he noticed some lights in the corner. “Is that a Christmas tree you have up already?” my friend asked. (Sure, some people decorate early, but summer seems extreme!)
The minister went on to explain that he kept the tree up in his office year-round as a reminder. Christmas, after all, is a celebration of God come to earth in response to our need for salvation. The minister wanted to maintain all year long, not just in December, a sense of gratefulness for God’s gift.
Gifts are often on our minds this season. Though sometimes the tradition of giving gets kicked into hyperdrive, overshadowing the spiritual, the intent behind it is good. Giving to others is a lovely way to show we care, to bestow some small gesture upon our loved ones to indicate we appreciate who they are and what they mean to us.
Just like saying thank you, some people more naturally give gifts as part of their communication style. Other people feel pressure, loving their friends and family but stressing out over finding the perfect item to wrap up and put under the tree.
Wherever you fall on this spectrum, consider the heart behind the giving tradition. You may choose new ways to approach presents this Christmas—homemade only, activities rather than things, donations to missions in someone’s honor. Above all, be sure to express your desire to emulate God, the original giver.
His gift lasts year-round: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16, 17, New Living Translation).