The Christmas season is in full swing! Christmas lights are hung, trees are decorated, Christmas music is playing and baking has begun. Lists of every kind abound! To do lists, to buy lists, ingredient lists, wish lists, and address lists are just a few of them. As much as there is to do at this time of year, there is just as much to enjoy. The truth is, it's easy to miss.
A few years ago, I made a pictorial journal of the month of December. I took a picture every day to reflect different things that I had busied myself with through the month. I wanted to see, at the end of the month, how much of it truly had to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus. I took pictures of the traditional things that we find ourselves busy with in December. There was the home decorating, the stocking exchange, cookie baking, and piles of wrapped gifts (15 alone for all my BIble Study friends). There were also pictures of not-so-traditional things such as a tea set to reflect the afternoon that my friend and I had a quiet lunch with a cup of Christmas tea. At the end of the month, as I looked back, I decided that I may decline some invitations the next year and that, if I could only do one thing in the month of December, it would be to attend "Christmas by Candlelight," a beautiful gift of music that one of our local colleges puts on each year. For me, it is truly inspiring and epitomizes all that this season is truly about. The truth is, I am still somewhat lamenting the fact that I missed it this year. This year, it fell on the same day as a fundraiser for Jenna's mission trip to Chile. Up until the last minute, I was still trying to figure out how I could do both. It was just not possible.
Just as easy to miss, is the spirit of giving. We feel compelled to not only give, but give BIG at Christmas. The reality for millions of us this year, is that the amount that we can actually spend on gift giving has been drastically cut. That's where the spirit of giving comes in. That is when we look around our house and into our heart to see what it is that we have that we can give. One of the other lists I have been keeping this month is ways that I gave in December. Going through the day with that intentional goal – to give – really changes my perception of things. I have also found though, that there is a danger of it becoming one more thing to do. So what have I given so far this month? As I look at my list, here are a few of the things…
Hope to the mom of a 5 year old, quarters in the kettle, clothing, forgiveness, a listening ear, smiles to strangers, hugs of comfort, a chunk of my time and a bit of my talent for the missions fundraiser, written words of encouragement, gas money, some guidance through a sticky situation for my younger sister, and an invitation extended to a friend who would otherwise have spent Christmas Day alone. They are not the things I thought of when I embarked on this challenge. Very few are tangible gifts. Most cost time instead of money.
As I write, there are just 13 days left until Christmas. My encouragement to you is this. Take a moment to slow down and enjoy all the Christmas beauty that surrounds you. Let it inspire and refresh you. Then take a moment to balance your list of things to do with your list of things to be this Christmas. Make sure your family and friends will get the very best of YOU!
Balancing it All With You,