The young cashier smiled and said, “I used to look forward to weekends, until I started working here.”
I’ve worked retail at Christmas. I still feel the pain. Around the middle of November, all vacations are frozen. There are no sick days allowed. You are expected to work every night and weekend and EVERYONE works the days after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Before I became a follower of Jesus, I pondered: “if this is what being a Christian is all about, I don’t want to be one.” Here we have the biggest holiday of the year, named after the biggest name in religion and all I could see, as a non-believer, was the insanity of covetousness, materialism and selfishness. If that was the “spirit of Christmas,” I did not want any part of it.
I never thought the Christmas season could get any less Christ-like, but I was wrong.
One parent said, “I don’t want my kids to think we can’t afford Christmas.” People! Christmas is not about finances!
I recently heard about a family that bought all their children cell phones, of the pre-paid variety. Once the 30 days were up, the phones shut off. The parents insisted that they just wanted their kids to feel special on Christmas day. Then there was the parent who went to the local rental store and rented a laptop for her child for Christmas, only to take it back when she could not afford it. She just wanted her child to be able to brag to his friends about his gift.
In contrast, I heard of a Christian family who chooses to celebrate the occasion as “Jesus’ birthday.” They have a cake, sing “Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus” and share gifts with one another. When one of the children was asked if she had gotten everything she wanted for Christmas, she said, “No. But it wasn’t my birthday, was it?”
Another family decided, rather than purchase gifts, they would give the money they would normally spend to a worthy cause. The family would research and discuss which charity was in the most need and place an envelope under the tree with their decision.
I like a recent e-mail I received that said, “Pssst: Your honey doesn’t want an iPad for Christmas. He wants a goat! Or maybe a piglet…” The promotion was for a charity, serving the needs of impoverished people around the world. The idea was to redirect my Christmas money to the needy. It even came with a link to an online catalog. For $205, I can buy a water pump to serve a whole village, feed a family of 4 for a month with $12, or feed a child for a year with $36. Now THAT’s Christ-like giving.
What if you can’t afford to make a donation? Give of yourself! Find a place that needs some help, and volunteer the gift of your time. Find a need and donate your hands, feet and your smile. You want to know the best way to find out what you could do? Listen to your own complaining, and set out to fix the problem.
Do you know someone who is struggling? Give them with your abundance.
And do it all in the name of Christ, who is the perfect gift:
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.