I work at a nonprofit social services agency in the Atlanta area. Each year at Christmastime, we have a program where we work with churches and volunteers to help local families in need by providing them with Christmas presents for their little ones. This program is a time-consuming process that we start working on in October and finish, of course, in December. This program helps hard-working families who manage to provide food, clothing, and shelter to their loved ones, but struggle with anything extra, like Christmas presents. All of the families that we help are low income and many of them live in poverty.
While I don’t have any children, I can easily understand why it is important for parents to be able to give presents to their kids at Christmas. I was a kid not that long ago and Christmas was my favorite time of year. It was so exciting and so much fun to run downstairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa Claus had brought. This is something that every child should be able to enjoy. And, I know that parents want nothing more than to give their children this special experience each year. As a kid, it felt like a lifetime between one Christmas and the next. Time was so slow. Now, as an adult, time just goes by faster and faster. Now, it feels like I just took down last year’s Christmas decorations about three months ago. But, I digress…
Yesterday morning, I got up early and went to a church in a neighboring county to help distribute the Christmas presents that so many wonderful people had bought and donated to the families in need that I reference in the first paragraph. While it was bright and sunny outside, it was also cold and windy. I much prefer warm weather, but after all, it is December. I wore a double layer of clothing, had on my winter coat, cap, and gloves, and I still froze! I was miserable!
But, a few minutes past 9:00am, families starting showing up to pick up the Christmas presents for their kids. Then, something magical starting taking place: true happiness filled the air. Moms and dads smiled, their eyes sparkled, and they were genuinely thankful. They all thanked us multiple times. Every one of the moms that came gave each one of us who were working a hug. Many of the parents brought their kids along with them. Each one of those kids had the greatest smiles on their faces. Many of them were young and shy, but even they gave us sweet little smiles. One precious little girl, in her little red winter coat, ran right up to me and gave me a hug around my legs and told me, “Merry Christmas!” As I bent down and gave her a hug back, I was fighting back tears. This! This is what Christmas is all about!
Despite the cold, windy weather, it was a perfect, heart-warming day.
As my husband likes to say, "Christmas is for kids." There is nothing quite like seeing the joy and rapture on a child’s face as they open their presents on Christmas morning. There is nothing that can compare to hearing their shrieks of delight and laughter as they tear off that wrapping paper. It truly is such an enchanting time. I had the pleasure of experiencing a little of that wonder myself yesterday.
While I know that the holidays can be a crazy time, I encourage you to carve out some time during this season to give back. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time; you can spend two to three hours and do yourself and others a world of good. Plus, if you have kids, get them in on the action. What a wonderful way to share with them great lessons of the Bible, such as it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35).
There are plenty of great nonprofits and other worthy causes that could use your help. If you do a search online, I am sure plenty of options will come up. Or, you could come up with some ideas on your own. You and your family could go to a local soup kitchen and help feed the homeless, you could visit a nursing home and bring some cookies and joy to its residents, or spend a few hours with your kids making Christmas decorations. Then, you could take these decorations to your local hospital and ask if you could hang up them up in their waiting rooms. These are fun and easy ways to help make Christmas a little brighter for others.
Finally, did you know that giving is good for you? Scientific studies have shown that when you give help to others, you are also helping yourself. Some of the personal health benefits include: lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, greater happiness, and even a longer life. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and share some Christmas spirit today!
Read more on Why Giving is Good for Your Health.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.