Hey there! I really haven’t quit on all y’all. I’ve just been reeeaaallly busy – traveling, getting the new house together, preparing to move and to go to college. It’s been hard to even think about Advent and/or Christmas! When the priest at Mass last Sunday (in Mexico) said it was the third Sunday in advent, I about fell off the pew. While my time has definitely been Christ-focused, it hasn’t been Advent-focused. This season has flown by!!! I bet you’ve been extra busy, too. So, find a comfy spot and grab a cuppa something warm, and let’s talk about some other ways to give this Christmas.
Let’s face it, we all have way too much stuff. If you’re reading this blog, you most likely have a computer. If you have a computer, I bet you have a lot of things. I bet there’s nothing else you really need, per se. I’m sure if you live in America, there are lots of things you want, but nothing else you truly need to live. We make lists of things we want to let people buy stuff for us to show us they care. But personally, I have way too much ‘stuff’, even with two houses! The fact that I won’t need to buy much past groceries to stock the new kitchen is pretty good proof of that. I live in an attached home, to boot! Are we agonizing over what to give someone, because they already have everything they could ever want or need?
So, what’s the answer? Scrap Christmas? Make everybody mad? No, no, no. Christmas is about love, and showing love to others. Let’s think about things we can do to share the love!
My favorite idea lately is to find out a favorite charity of someone, and donate to the charity in their name. Or donate in memory of a loved one. Or donate time if you have more time than money. Then just make some sort of card with the info or the charity receipt, and voila! The perfect gift for someone who has everything!
Maybe you like to knit or crochet. Go online and find a local charity that does those things. Or baby quilts, or stuffed animals for police departments to use when there are children at the scene of a crime. There’s always Operation Christmas Child, aka ‘shoebox’ ministry, a Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive, or a food drive for the less fortunate at nearly every store in town. Many churches, and even retail stores will do an “Angel Tree” sponsored by the Salvation Army to get things for less fortunate families. I’ve seen similar programs for children of prison inmates, or even military service members. Maybe you can donate an hour a week to a charity that teaches adults to read, and can use that as a gift for a retired teacher, or something. If you have a teacher on your list, find out what they routinely buy with their own money to help stock their classroom. If you want to do something for your priest, have a Mass offered for them. Spend an extra hour in prayer for your pastor.
As Catholics, we believe that our sufferings, no matter how small, may be turned into opportunities to serve others. We say, offer it up. By cheerfully accepting our trials and pains, and then offering them to the Lord in prayer, life circumstances can give us a way to offer difficult things up for the good of others. Aches, pains, diet restrictions, activity restrictions, financial restrictions, an addiction you’re recovering from. Anything you want that you ‘can’t have’, or something you’re ‘stuck with’ can be offered up for the good of another in prayer. Instead of obsessing over what you can’t have, and whining about it, offer up that ‘suffering’ as a sacrifice for the good of someone else. It might be someone specific, or let the Lord choose. You could think of it as a form of fasting whatever that thing is that you can’t have, and offering it up as prayer.
Something you can always give is the gift of prayer. This can be something you let them know about, or it can be a ‘secret’. It can also be one of the best gifts you can give – or receive.
Maybe you’re the one who needs prayers this year. Maybe you need some help with ‘The Reason for the Season’. Find a pastor or priest. They will be glad to listen, pray with you, and help you find the true joy of Christmas this year!