Ah, Christmas. So much joy and so much fun. Or... so much stress and so much darkness. Depending on your experiences, Christmas can mean merriment and wonder, or possibly sadness and dismay. I have been blessed to experience more of the merriment than the sadness in my life. When I look beyond my own comfy corner, though, I see a world where many are struggling and it makes me aware of the importance of not taking our good life for granted. In the blustery busyness of this season, we can get caught up in the whirlwind and forget what matters most.
I want to step away from the platitudes, the millions of "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmases" spoken by rote, rather than by heart. I want to move toward more meaningful exchanges: kindness shared over cups of coffee and breaking of bread, or even just a genuine exchange between strangers at the grocery store.
I want to separate myself from the myriad of commercialized notions of what Christmas is and how we celebrate together: Trim the tree, stuff the bird, stuff the family, sit back, relax, eat too much, show "love" through mountains of sweet treats piled high on platters, and witness the tightening of waistbands in the aftermath.
Instead I pray for thanks offerings and gratitude, for open hearts and minds, for the opportunity to offer our best - not in trade - but without thought of reciprocation, recognizing the grace poured out over us by the One who gave it all and sharing that grace freely.
I want to step back from the need to "count the cost" of each gift under the tree. "Did we spend the same on each child? Have we treated everyone fairly?" my inner worrier wonders. Perhaps the blessing is to be found in our presence rather than the piles of presents?
With that in mind, I want to give my children gifts that last. My presence at the table is better than any toy I can wrap. My patience, love and kindness, ever growing and brightening through Jesus' transformation of this old heart, are more valuable than glitter and gold. His new mercy everyday leads to my renewal. What a blessing, and what a gift to be able to pass along to those I love the most.
I want to step away from my desire to buy into the sparkling lights and shiny wrapping, and remember all those who won't be celebrating Christmas with friends and family this year.
The reality is, sometimes all we can give is our hearts in gratitude and our hands in prayer. These become the offering when nothing else will do. As part of Advent this year, I wrote a prayer for Syrian refugees. I just kept thinking, "what do you give when you have nothing left?" This is the answer I came up with:Advent - Beyond Measure
I have many jumbled thoughts on what to give and how to live this Christmas season. At the end of the day, I offer you this blessing (courtesy of Jesus):
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
Wishing you joy and peace throughout the giving season.
In Jesus' name,
Karma Pratt is a faith-driven mom of twins, a communicator, a writer, and an encourager from way back. She loves words, art, creativity, God, and people, although not necessarily in that order.