When I lived at home (i.e. with my parents as I was growing up), Christmas Eve was one of my favorite days. I loved the anticipation, the smells of delicious things baking in the oven, the newly wrapped gifts that would appear under the tree throughout the day as my family rolled into action, spurred on by the deadline of Christmas Day.
But most of all, I loved something that usually happened at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. My mom would start baking—little loaves of pumpkin bread, Amish sugar cookies, and other goodies. We’d wrap them in colored cellophane or decorated bags and boxes. My mom and I would tie brightly colored ribbons around the gifts and my dad would write cards. My mom would gather the gifts she’d bought—a sweater for an elderly lady in the nursing home, a book for a lady in the church who was a close friend of the family, a small gift for an older couple in the community.
Throughout the day, we’d decorate those gifts and write cards, little notes of encouragement and hope, expressing our thankfulness that these people were a part of our lives. And then, we’d deliver them. Sometimes, just my dad made deliveries; sometimes my brother and I (or one of us) went with him. Even now, when I’m home before Christmas, I often accompany my parents to visit Mrs. Davis, a woman in the community they visit, pray for, encourage, and love.
I didn’t love that day because I love talking to people I don’t know that well. Honestly, sometimes that was really uncomfortable for me. But I loved that day because I loved the act of giving. I think even as a kid who really didn’t deeply understand the greatness of the gift God had given me in Christ, I loved how these simple acts pointed to Him. None of the gifts were extravagant or expensive really, but they were freely given for the delight and joy of the recipients.
I learned a lot about giving during those days. I learned how to give freely and without expecting anything in return. I learned that giving to others truly is a gift of its own. I learned that there is deep joy and satisfaction in seeing someone else love the gift you’ve given them.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about more and more this Christmas. At Thanksgiving, my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. After a few moments of consideration, I simply said, “I don’t know. I don’t really need anything.” And I don’t. I have a good life and have been blessed beyond measure. So, it’s why this Christmas, if you’re considering getting me a gift, I’d like you to consider buying it here: Compassion Christmas Gift Catalog. There, you can buy things like food and water for a family or give money to make sure kids have sanitary bathrooms and water supplies. Because truthfully, I don’t need much this Christmas. Sure, there are things I’d like to have, but they’re wants, not needs.
And when you give, you and I both can feel that joy that comes in giving and meeting a need that might otherwise go unmet.This post is part of Compassion International’s It’s All About Giving Campaign. The campaign is about painting a complete picture of giving, but it’s also about raising $20,000 for children in poverty this Christmas season. I recently signed up to become a Compassion blogger and one of their blog challenges spurred this post. To learn about all the other ways Compassion is painting a complete picture of giving this holiday season, read their blog post.