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December 23, 2015
Lorna Dueck

My earliest memories of Christmas are of a giving ritual we did each Christmas day once everything under our festive tree had been unwrapped.  There were five of us siblings, and mom and dad had each of us take a portrait under the tree with our newly discovered toys and treats artfully arranged around us.  Those pictures became an archive of my parent’s generosity, our own covetousness, and they smack with a wonderful sense of “mine, all mine.” We have settled a few family arguments about who had what, and when by going over our Christmas giving photo archive. (Yes, that Snakes and Ladders game we all enjoyed was actually mine, unwrapped with my name on it in 1964…) Maybe the best emotions about those annual photos displaying fresh loot around the Christmas tree are these; a deep the sense that I lacked for nothing, my parents gave me a lot of material things.

Whatever trimming and tradition you put on this season, Christmas exists because God gave. At the heart of a global celebration that has endured for centuries and gone through endless creative cultural adaptations is a historic seed; God gave to the human race. The gift God gave was Jesus.  

I have lost count of the people I have interviewed who have done stunning and fantastic things in the world, but it’s easy to remember that many had a sense of gratitude for gifts given to them.

It is good to think deeply on gifts that are in our lives. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude changes my own attitude in profound ways. Gratitude pulls me to optimism, to kindness, to a smile, it just makes the walk of life lighter. Yet the gratitude impulse goes much deeper, because I wonder if, in fact, that gratitude is a mental health tool. I have often told a friend or confidante my convictions that I think God’s command that we be thankful is meant for our emotional benefit, because when I focus on being thankful, specifically on speaking words of appreciation, or, when I am alone, shouting words of thank you to God, I always notice an enormous change in my outlook. My optimism, my wonder, my smile comes back.  

So as Christmas for this season comes to a close, I want to challenge myself to keep unwrapping the gifts of giving and gratitude for the entire year ahead.   To look at as many encounters with people as I can, as opportunities to give to them.   To help people all year round to join my own wonder at receiving the gift of Jesus.   I want to join in the discovery of using this practical, intimate gift of the Christ child, in as many of life’s applications as I possibly can. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can stop a person from receiving the gift of Christ from a God who is so abundantly lavish and generous with giving. The world needs Christmas giving all year long, let’s get out there and share it.   

Adapted from Lorna’s Benediction in The Yuletide Factor by Tim Huff.


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