Some years ago, we were going through a terrible financial difficulty. Christmas was approaching and because I knew there was no money to buy gifts for the children, I was in panic mode. I did everything I could to not let the children know how bad things were and I knew I had to be resourceful to make Christmas special. So one day, I invented what I called “Presents.” I sat down and started cutting out strips of paper. Then, on each piece of paper I wrote down a “Present”… something that each one of us could do for each other to show our love. There were fun things like giving everyone a high five or singing a reciting a tongue twister; there were chores, like cleaning the kitchen that night or folding the laundry; there were acts of charity, such as “name two reasons why you love your sister,” or “give mom a big hug and kiss”… I thought of as many things to do as I could, folded up all the pieces of paper, and put them all in a big fish bowl. When everyone had finished their dinner we each drew a piece of paper from the bowl, read it, and performed the act with smiles and laughter all around! It was a HUGE HIT! These little acts of love that were done while we were carrying our cross, truly prepared us for the coming of Christ. And we still do Presents every year.
If you are finding it difficult to see the joy in this Advent season, take a small step in the direction of hope and create your own presents that you and your children can give to each other. I know many of you will find yourselves without your families during the holidays, but you can still bring a cup of coffee to a co-worker, give the store clerk a pleasant smile and a “How are you?” even though you don’t feel like being sociable, stick a few bucks in the charitable donations bucket, or bring some baked goods to neighbors you don’t know that well. Just a few suggestions on finding simple ways, little Presents to give when you feel as if you’ve got nothing to give.
Be kind to one another and tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has also forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).