In the New Testament, in Acts 20:35, Jesus is quoted as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
The giving of gifts on Christmas, then, is an act of obedience and is symbolic of the gift to the world of Jesus.
Gift-giving is one of several traditions of the holiday, many of which have become firmly established in our culture and in the cultures of other people around the world. Millions of Christians, people of other faiths and unbelievers alike observe the holiday around the world.
There are various versions of Santa Claus, the character who in America has visited homes on the eve of Christmas to deliver presents to children.
Santa is a creation who represents the spirit of giving.
Spoiler alert: To any children who may be reading this, Santa is a fictional character.
But he’s very real in the sense of what he represents in the human spirit.
The debate goes on about whether man is basically good or evil, but we take comfort in the generosity that is repeatedly shown by our neighbors.
It is uplifting to see us respond to emergencies such as the storms that devastated the Philippine Islands and, closer to home, Brookport, Ill., last month.
It is heartwarming to see various ongoing efforts such as the Marshall County Ramp Ministry’s installation of access ramps at the homes of those who have become ill or unable to negotiate steps.
And yet, the needs are even greater than our big hearts are capable of serving.
We are just leaving behind the holiday period which reminds us to be thankful for all that we have. As we make our way through the final weeks and days before Christmas, we challenge everyone to be filled with the spirit of giving, and share the blessings that have been bestowed upon each of us.
“Top 10 Christmas Charities,” a post on voices.yahoo.com, lists the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, Samaritan’s Purse, Toys for Tots and My Two Front Teeth as leading organized charitable efforts, and then includes local food banks, schools, homeless shelters, children’s service agencies and nursing homes.
Here in Marshall County, in addition to those charities we have Rotary’s Toys for Kids, the Shop With a Cop program conducted by law enforcement agencies and a variety of efforts that give something in exchange for a gift from those who enjoy it, such as the Christmas light display at Mike Miller Park which seeks donations to Needline.
A formal program is not required.
Give by showing that you care about an elderly person, a child, a family, someone who is in need in some particular manner for some reason. Do what you can do, if it is nothing more than console and comfort.
There is nothing so empty as the man who is full of himself. Fill someone else with a little bit of joy, and fill yourself.