I have a sweet friend who recently told me that she was struggling with not feeling “Christmasy”. Her husband and youngest son were out of town and her oldest is a young adult, so she was spending a lot of time leading up to Christmas alone. I made a few suggestions about giving back to those in need as a way to channel some true Christmas Spirit and she said, oh I did make and deliver treats to my neighbors. But that didn’t do it. Now, my friend is a Christ-follower, so I know that she knows the real reason for the season, but I’m still not surprised that she didn’t experience a lasting boost from her good deed. When we are focused on our own needs, wants and desires, we become really self-centered. That’s not a knock on my friend. I’m totally the same way. It’s so easy to forget how wonderful my life is and pick apart the little things or dwell on the way I wish this or that small thing was. Happiness is significantly influenced by circumstances. My friend’s circumstances weren’t changing. Her day to day, moment to moment experiences were the same. Lonely. In order to counter her loneliness, she needed consistent experiences that were contrary to what she was feeling. One afternoon of delivering cookies to neighbors was special and a kind gesture. Choosing to interact in daily actions of love is completely different. Do you need to find your Christmas Spirit too? Here are ten ways to give today or any time of the year:
- Take some stuffed animals to the nearest women’s shelter. There are always women with small children in the shelter and these stuffed animals can help make the transition less frightening for them.
- Deliver cookies to your local fire or police station. Thank them for their efforts to keep you and your neighbors safe. There are always some on duty during every holiday!
- Spend some time visiting with an elderly neighbor. Many older people don’t get many visitors, even though they often have fascinating life stories to share!
- Buy coffee, tea or cocoa for a stranger in the line behind you.
- Call someone whom you know has experienced a loss this year and tell them you’re praying for them. Then pray with them, if you’re comfortable doing that.
- Send an anonymous encouraging note to five people. Include pictures, poems, and/or scripture.
- Play secret Santa at your office. Deliver a tiny gift to an unsuspecting co-worker and don’t get caught!
- Volunteer to serve a meal at a local soup kitchen, deliver food for Meals-on-Wheels, or take a bag of groceries to someone you know needs them.
- Offer to babysit for a friend. Trust me. Whether it’s a new mom who needs some “me” time, a single dad who needs to finish Christmas shopping, or a couple with tweens who need a night out. You will be blessing your friend’s socks off.
- Share a healthy breakfast with your church staff. They work so hard all year to serve the congregation and community — it’s a wonderful time to serve them.
If you’re having a hard time channeling the Christmas Spirit, you still have plenty of time to try any one of these ideas. In fact, I’m going to keep this list for the whole year and refer to it when I need a lift. Giving to others is the best way to get the focus off of ourselves.
If you’re struggling this Christmas, because it’s your first year alone/after a loss/divorced/jobless/disappointed, please watch this message — First Christmas, from Northpoint Community Church.
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy New Year!