The holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, never made much sense to me. After all, who really wants all those birds? But the theme of giving is one we can all get excited about. Twelve days of presents? You betcha!
But the intent of this song seems to revolve around "me"--what am I getting out this season? Look what "my true love gave to me..." Yes, our true love does prompt us to give, but what if we turned this idea upside down and asked ourselves, what can I give to someone else?
Perhaps it was the little gift Mom brought the kids (an Advent reading over the last 12 days before Christmas) or maybe it was just God. Regardless of the inspiration, I feel challenged to kick it up a notch this Christmas (not in a list-driven, manic kind of way), but in a others-focused way.
After all, isn't Christ's birth all about realigned perspectives and expectations?
If I take those 12 days and flip them, I have to look at others and say, "What do they need?" "How can bless them? " And it's not just about material gifts either--many of these ideas have nothing to do with financial means. It has to do with giving something of ourselves.
If someone needs a little extra encouragement, I don't want to be so wrapped up in my Christmas parties, shopping, lists, and traditions, that I miss out on the hearts of people.
So, here is my working list, which comes with a disclaimer: I'm nervous about this challenge. I know my tendency to push forward with excited inspiration and then fizzle out when the practical realities of life elbow in. But I've decided I'm not going to feel guilty about failure. I'm just going to try... my best, whatever that may be. I will try to keep you updated each day as I venture out in these "gifts." I would love to hear if you are joining me.
Day #1: Give a gift in secret.
Day #2: Give an extra-long hug.
Day #3: Give everyone you meet a compliment or a sincere word of appreciation.
Day #4: Give someone a dozen homemade cookies (neighbor, friend, teacher, pastor, etc.)
Day #5: Give an old friend a letter/card.
Day #6: Give a needy child a toy for Christmas.
Day #7: Give away some favorite clothes or books--not just the rejects.
Day #8: Give a child the gift of time. Color with them or read to them.
Day #9: Give every widow or orphan you know a note of encouragement.
Day #10: Give another Mom a break and offer to babysit.
Day #11: Give the gift of hope (donate to World Vision, Compassion, etc.)
Day #12: Give thanks for the greatest Gift of all--Our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Happiness doesn't result from what we get, but from what we give. ~Ben Carson