I grew up an unusual approach to Christmas. I do not remember getting the latest toy. We received vintage toys that were incredibly like the ones we had lost earlier in the year. When we shopped for gifts, the number one priority was not price or fashion. The attribute that defined “success” was that the present had the receiver’s “name” written all over!
As I look back, one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave us was our unconventional approach to Christmas. I love Christmas! Gift giving is a language that is near and dear to my heart. Candidly, I really look forward to thinking about, finding (no matter how difficult or long the quest might be), and then giving. Receiving is fine, but now near as important as the fun I find in giving. It may have been unconventional; yet, the wonder these lessons created were and are truly priceless.
With time, I discovered that an intangible came with this approach to Christmas. The intangible is the willingness to look at the unusual, out of the ordinary, and at times weird with a sense of curiosity, wonder, and reflection. There are incredible advantages to this approach. When “some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had come to Antioch started talking to Greeks, giving them the Message of the Master Jesus,” (Acts 11.20) it would have been easy to be critical. Fortunately, not every did.
As I look around me, I see very unusual approaches to people in need, individuals struggling with pain, and others fearing the future. I do not know if these will work, yet I know that I should not rush to judgment. Sharing food with those asking for help may not solve tomorrow but it does address the moment at hand. Extending a smile to those that are angry or frustrated may not mend the problem however it does bring hope. Taking time to listen may not seem efficient, however it is at the heart of what it means to be engaged as a family and as a community.