My big girl asked me if it would be Christmas again soon.
"Well, it's kind of always Christmas."
She gasped, "It is?!"
"Yes. What is Christmas?"
"Jesus' birthday!" Everything was said with exclamation points. She was feeling very animated and silly when we were having this conversation. I don't want you to think these convos are always serious and calm. Hardly ever.
"Yes, when Jesus came to be with us. Do you know what Emmanuel means?"
"Well, yes...it means Jesus is with us. God is with us. And Jesus is God, so when Jesus was born, God came to be with us. God with us."
She is doing somersaults on the couch, "Emmanuel!"
"And if we believe in Jesus, God is with us all the time; so, it's like Christmas all the time."
And she flipped into my lap with laughter. And I wonder, as I always do, how much is she absorbing? And I trust His promise that as the rains fall from heaven and do not return there without accomplishing the purpose for which they are sent, so is His Word.
As always, the lesson is really for me. I've wondered all day, with a little sorrow, when we will take down our tree and Christmas decorations. I love the extra light the tree gives and the cozy feeling of all the decorations. When they come down, everything feels so empty. But I know within the next couple of days they will be gone.
I've heard Christmas described recently as a time when all humanity seems to be generous and compassionate. I think that is why I don't like taking the decorations down; it seems like the finale to the season of so much goodness.
But...Emmanuel! God is with us! So perhaps I should act like it all year, not just in December.
A friend of mine sent me a text this morning. Her family, too, had been trying to do random acts of kindness for Christmas. Here's what she said:
I am prayerful that we can keep up our random acts of kindness even thought Christmas is "over." It just felt right.
God came to us. Christmas. Now He is with us. Emmanuel. We show Him to others by passing on what He's given to us. Kindness. Or that awesome grace cycle I've mentioned before.
I'm thankful the new year follows right on the heels of Christmas. It is a great time to start new traditions. How about incorporating regular acts of kindness into our routine?
I read this quote from Samaritan's Purse today: "When you seek happiness for others you find it for yourself."
New Year's Resolution: Seek to make others happy through random (and anonymous when possible) acts of kindness.
Here's hoping you have a very HAPPY new year as you celebrate Christmas all year long, remembering Emmanuel--God with us--and keeping the spirit of compassion and generosity alive through random acts of kindness!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. --Galatians 5:22-23 (emphasis mine)
Here are some random acts of kindness I've recently heard about to get your mind turning. Have oh so much fun!
1. piling up the shopping carts and pushing them inside the store; some employee will be grateful.
2. filling the teller's box at the bank drive thru with goodies (such as candy canes for Christmas)
3. leaving a surprise in your mailbox for the mail person (my friend left a hand scrub, which was very thoughtful since mail deliverers have to handle so much paper and their hands prob get very dry)
4. leaving a surprise on your trash can for the men who pick up your trash
5. put a stack of cards on your counter and try to think of one person every day who could use a note of encouragement
6. pay the bill of the person behind you in a drive-thru
7. deliver flowers to someone who's home-bound
8. have your kiddos gather up some of their drawings/painting/crafts and take them to a local nursing home to give to the residents
9. donate new or gently used items to a local distribution center; and by this, i mean give sacrificially, not just the old stuff you don't want or ever use, but items you may not use frequently and someone else could benefit from having them.
10. volunteer at a local ministry or outreach
11. help someone with yard work or other chore they aren't able to do, but you can!
12. hold a door
13. let someone go in front of you (at the grocery check-out, on the road, etc...)
14. buy a pack of gum for the person at the register (don't do this at wal-mart; they can't accept anything from customers, as my friend recently discovered)
15. leave a gift card with the barista at Starbucks for the next person that comes in (sorry, but this one just didn't give me the same warm fuzzy feeling if i didn't mention that it had to be Starbucks.)
16. thank your police and fire men (desserts are always a hit!)
17. pick up trash (this can be a simple as-you-go kind of habit, picking up whatever lies in your path from your car to the store, or as you're out on a walk in your neighborhood, or on the floor of a restaurant, or...
18. visit your local animal shelter and walk a dog
19. leave an extra-large tip and note of encouragement for your restaurant server
20. give a bag of canned food to a food bank
21. double a recipe and share with a neighbor
22. introduce yourself to a neighbor you haven't met
23. shovel snow for someone
And if you're able to dish out a bit of money...
24. sponsor a child (i highly recommend Compassion)
25. buy goats, chickens, blankets, or mosquito nets to help a family living in poverty (visit worldvision.org)
And that's just 25 grains of sand on the vast beaches of humanity.
For more ideas...
Oh! And I just thought of one more...a biggy...offer to babysit for a momma who desperately needs a day or night out. Those sleepless infant nights wear on a body.
Attitude of Gratitude
134. three blankets and a fleece jacket when the sickies makes us cold
135. hearing my girls say, "let's play nice."
136. seeing them hug in penitence and forgiveness
137. baby girl-isms, the latest being "compooter" ("oo" as in "boot")
138. my 3 yr-old and 4 yr-old's performance of "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," "Away in a Manger," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Jingle Bells," and, "O, Christmas Tree" while ringing the reindeer door hanger like a tambourine, pretending to ride a sleigh, and (re)decorating the tree during the appropriate songs
138. for my man, who, knowing i am sick, slips his arms around my waist, hugs me, tells me to go sit down, and makes me some tea (otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this post)
For more on "Attitude of Gratitude," see this post.