The best Christmas gifts don’t come in boxes or bags. They’re not wrapped in shiny foil with ribbons and bows. They’re neither too big nor too small, neither disposable nor recyclable, but they are infinite and eternal. They don’t cost us one penny – or maybe that should be revised to a nickel – and that’s not because they come from Santa. No, the most cherished gifts we can give or receive this Christmas are love, caring, and sharing. These are spiritual gifts that come from God, and He intends for us to share these special gifts, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22, NIV).
As Christians, we know that Christmas is to be observed as a holy festival commemorating Jesus’ birth. Despite this, those Christmas commercials successfully lure us into purchasing numerous products and services with the false message that happiness comes from the material rather than the spiritual. Merchants love the Christmas shopping season when people purchase gifts, cards, decorations, Christmas trees and lights, and stock their pantries, because it’s their most profitable time of year. They instruct their clerks to greet us with the secular “Happy Holidays” for fear of offending a customer with the traditional “Merry Christmas.” Shoppers wear their wallets, soles, and patience thin searching the crowded stores for the perfect gifts for their friends and family.
These “Happy Holidays” frazzle our nerves and leave us fatigued. It’s difficult to maintain that holiday spirit when you’re tired, your feet hurt, and you don’t know where you’re going to find the money to pay for your Christmas spending spree. So what can you do this Christmas season to fill it with more of the holy and less of the holly?
Let me offer you a few tips to help you escape some of the usual seasonal hustle and bustle. The Lord commands us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10), so try to take a fifteen minute time-out from your frantic day. Read some Bible verses or the biblical story of Jesus’ birth. If you have little ones, sit down with them and read a picture book about the Nativity. This is not only a way to share your love for them, but God’s, too. Light up your Christmas tree, snuggle up with a blanket and hot beverage in a comfy chair, and read some seasonal poems, short stories, or a book that will kindle your Christmas spirit. Perhaps you have some special ones that you like to reread every year.
After a busy day of shopping, decorating, or housecleaning, sit down with your family to watch some of your favourite Christmas movies. You might even find a few new favourites this year. You could also look for a local Christmas play, concert, or choir that fits into your busy holiday schedule. Be sure to make room on your calendar for some special family activities like ice-skating or sledding, too.
Even on those days when you just can’t seem to find enough time to relax, you can still relieve some of your stress by listening to your favourite Christmas carols while you’re baking, signing cards, or wrapping your presents. Then unwind from your hectic day by turning on some cheerful Christmas music, lighting some colourful, scented candles, and taking a nice long soak in a tub full of soothing bath oil or bubble bath.
Most importantly, spend some quiet time each day with God in prayer, and remember that the most precious gift you can share with others this Christmas is God’s spiritual gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Photo Credit: Morey, Nina F. © 2016. Sharing Spiritual Gifts.
Nina Faye Morey is a Saskatoon writer, poet, artist, and editor. Her work has been published in Christian, secular, and literary journals. She won two FellowScript Writing Contests, third place in the Fiction and Nonfiction Categories of InScribe’s Fall Contest, and the Barnabas Fellowship in 2015. She also contributed to the 2015 ICWF anthology, 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers. Nina’s an ICWF Executive member and editor-in-chief for FellowScript. As well, she’s a member of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and Saskatoon’s Innovative Toastmasters Club.