Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes it's difficult to stop and remember the spirit of the season is about one thing: giving.
It's easy to get caught up in the gifts and shopping and sales, making sure you've made your list and checked it twice and having to frantically run to the store for last minute items.
But the "giving" of Christmas is best summed up by a childhood favorite by Dr. Seuss, when the Grinch finally realizes that he can't take Christmas from Whoville: "What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”
When we think about the Christmas story, we see two young parents, in need of a place to stay. The innkeeper gives them the only available space: a manger in the barn among the animals. We see magi from the East, the "Three Wise Men" traveling to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new child, and we see an angel professing the news of the gift to the world, saying, "unto you a child is born!"
You see, the first Christmas was nothing like the Christmas we know today. To quote the beloved Grinch again, "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
For too many families, the spirit of Christmas centers on what you get instead of what you give, despite so many opportunities to give love and kindness.
The holidays can certainly be a stressful time, but they don't have to be stressful at all. If we choose to approach the holidays, and our lives together in community with one another, from a place of giving, we may find so much more to be thankful for than we ever knew.
Whether it's something as simple as giving the young mother with the fussy baby your place in line at Wal-Mart or dropping some spare change in the Salvation Army bucket, we can all give a little more to create a better community together.
And when we give a little more and focus our hearts on making the world a little better for those around us, we may be surprised to find we also get a little more--more joy, more love, and more community this holiday season.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!