I have just paid $2 to post this, internet is scare these days. I am sitting in a mall using the internet kiosk, I am one of those girls who you walk by and think "Oh poor people, they have to throw in two coins to check their email". But hey, I have a lovely mocha next to me and there is cheery Christmas music playing and somewhere above me there is a Rudolf with his 11 (or however many buddies) pulling the sled. As I was waiting for my cup of coffee and listening to the Christmas music, I was so moved that I almost started crying and I have absolutely no idea why. I love Christmas so so much, I can't tell you. It's by far the most awesome thing we humans celebrate. Maybe part of the goodness is that the songs (some) you hear still bear the true message.
When I was little, I used to practice Christmas songs on piano for months because Santa Claus always asked for a poem or a creative performance before you get a gift. (Which, when we think about... you kind of get gypt there - isn't the whole idea that the free gift came to the world not because we deserved it but simply because we are loved?) but there are lots of silly things that we, humans, have inserted in Christmas. Like the big posters that say "The Spirit of Christmas", mind you, they are in a busy shopping mall with stores flashing their specials on every corner.
But then again, as much as I will say Christmas has nothing to do with gifts, really, it is the whole idea of Christmas -- it IS about gifts!!!!
I remember dad bringing lots and lots of gifts from Germany one year when I was quite young. Those of you, who read this, who grew up in the Soviet USSR, you will know what I am talking about - things that we didn't dare dreaming about - because they were nowhere to be found and those who did find them could rarely afford them. Here, my dad brought me almost everything I asked for (in fact, I am pretty sure he brought everything I asked). Which included a Barbie doll (my first one), a Walkman, and a electronic piano (I am not sure what the right name for the thing is). AND IT WAS ALL FOR ME!!!!! There were lots of candies and goodies and pop sodas and all kinds of things I had never seen or tasted before. He had worked so hard, with no holidays, and earned money to get this and brought it to me. Even though I remember it because of the gifts, it is still such a warm memory to me.
A couple years ago I made up a few "Boxes of Love" through the Billy Graham's ministry - you fill a shoebox full to toys and goodies for a certain age group and gender of children and then they are taken to countries where kids who can't afford of get those kinds of things get them. That time I had the same feeling of Christmas. Knowing that some little boy and girl will be so happy because they get something they haven't dared to dream about.
Christmas IS about gifts. And it's a beautiful thing. Gifts that we don't deserve, gifts that are too expensive and don't make sense to spend so much money on but it's wonderful to know that we are loved so much and someone is willing to sacrifice something to give you so much joy and happiness. That someone knows what you've really wanted and have noticed it and gotten it - it's beautiful and it's loved and it's so special.
I really really encourage you to get a Christmas gift to someone who can't afford it or join a charity that does something of the sort. It's a gift for them but also for yourself. Enjoy the joy of knowing you are really going to surprise someone and give them something that they might not have dared to dream about because they can't afford it. And when you do it, let yourself experience the joy - enjoy it, feel good about yourself, thank God that you can afford to do it, smile about it the rest of the day! I think it's a little step to trying to live a life that's bigger than self and the joy of giving really is an amazing thing.