Sometimes I feel like we are missing out on all of the holiday fun. We don't have a tree up (3 cats), no lights grace the deck (bad weather lately), and we have done no Christmas shopping. It's kind of a two-edged sword because my spouse and I made a decision a couple of years ago to donate to various causes in lieu of giving material gifts for Christmas.
The "missing out" has to do with the enjoyment of shopping for gifts in a mall atmosphere where the decorations are overwhelming and the Christmas spirit prevails. I miss the animated displays, the lights, the music, and the festive atmosphere of a mall at Christmas time. I miss shopping for gifts for family and friends. I miss having credit cards, but only sometimes! I don't miss the fatigue and frustration which can result from Christmas shopping.
I must admit that what we are doing instead is personally and spiritually rewarding. In actuality, our family and friends are fairly well situated and are not in dire need of anything. I will give my ninety-year-old mother a couple of small gifts, but I will also donate money to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Fund because Mom is a breast cancer survivor. I have sponsored a wolf in honor of my friend who is enamored of that particular wild animal. She will receive a small stuffed toy and tote bag as well as an adoption certificate. In honor of my sister and her family, we have "adopted" a child whose family has no money to spend on him for Christmas. Her family has done the same for us, helping an underprivileged girl in Ohio to have an enjoyable day.
To remember others, I am giving a gift certificate to one of my friends whose home was recently repossessed. Her husband has not worked for three years, and they have four kids. They can use a gift card if anyone can! One of my nieces is a Type 1 diabetic, and we usually donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation to honor her. In addition, we are giving money to Heifer, Intenational; Food for the Poor and Episcopal Relief and Development as "gifts" for others. One of our friends has given us the gift of loaning money to an enterprising woman through the Kiva program.
This kind of Christmas may not be for everyone. In truth, though, it gives us more of an awareness of the spiritual nature of Christmas as we become less involved in the commercial aspects.
I can't recall who told me this story, but I want to pass it on anyway. At a Christmas Eve service some time ago, the congregation sat back to listen to the clergyperson's sermon. He looked out at the assembled group and then bent down and picked up a couple of objects which he kept hidden behind his back. The objects were an infant doll and a wooden cross. He held the baby up to the congregation and said, "This happened..." and then held up the cross and added, "so this could happen." He then said "Amen" and stepped down from the pulpit. That was the entire sermon, and to this, I add, "Amen."
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