Sometimes we make giving to those that are less fortunate so complicated and formal.
Let’s create a program, pass it by a committee, raise money from people we know or don’t know, then socialize, twitterize and publicize.
Then 6 months later we actually get something done, maybe someone somewhere is helped.
Guys, it’s not that complicated.
Just invite people into your life. Walk them into your family and life and traditions.
I challenge you this year… don’t keep Christmas to yourself.
This year a group of my friends who are young professionals through a group called Nav20s decided to do a project for our community. Since I was already involved with anti-trafficking and at-risk outreaches for women in Chicago, I went ahead and took the lead in organizing a Christmas party.
Why a party? Well, Christmas traditions aren’t something I have to come up with. I just used the Christmas traditions that my family does every year. This time though, we took it to the least of these, those who actually are the most courageous of them all.
So we went to the house of New Life for Women where women from broken situations go to for a year of restoration, followed by graduation and training for the workforce.
They were so kind and so receptive and everything was simply wonderful! It was one of the most magical parties I’ve ever been to!
First, we played a simple game that was a mash-up of Christmas songs. It’s incredible how something so simple can be so much fun with simply the right attitudes. One lady said to me as we were walking back to the kitchen, “Well that was so much fun! You know, Colleen said that when she decided to give up drinking that she had no idea what she could do anymore for fun. Well let me tell you, THAT was fun! I was laughing so much!” And I knew that laughing was not something she had had much in her recent history. It’s amazing watching those who have been in bondage now acting out their freedom. It’s beautiful.
Next was the tradition of Christmas cookie decorating. Again, I took my Mom’s homemade Christmas cut-out cookie recipe, made our famous frosting, and the decorating began. Simple, fun, and hilarious to see the personalities of everyone come out as we created.
Again, we didn’t know each other before that afternoon, but a little genuine love can open up anyone’s heart to yours. People who our culture says shouldn’t be friends were communing and enjoying each other’s company as new friends.
Breaking down barriers, one cookie at a time.
And of course a tradition our family always does is coming into the living room Christmas morning to Bing Crosby and Andy Williams singing and stockings propped up on the sofas. And so we shared this as well.
The joy, surprise and happiness of each women was more than enough to fill my soul for years. “I have never gotten a stocking with my name on it in my life. Wow! Thank you!”
“I haven’t celebrated Christmas in 40 years. This is the first time I have had fun on Christmas in a very long time.”
“This was the best gift. Thank you, God bless you, God bless you, God bless you!”
Then we sat around the room and sang favorite Christmas songs. Each on-tune and off-key note was beautiful. It was a very, very special moment.
And the highlight of it all was when we circled around the women and prayed over them, speaking hope, blessing and victory into their lives. Their sobs and echoes of “Amen! Yes, thank you Jesus,” left us all overwhelmed with emotion and overflowing with thankfulness.
We went in thinking we would bless them, but instead walked out more blessed and encouraged than they. How easy is it for us to deal with long lines of traffic, hours of baking, and schedules packed with parties and celebrations compared to those who have deal with homelessness, injustice, manipulation, poverty, and separation, yet still make the decision to move forward with their lives into freedom from broken situations. They may have nothing, but they have realized they do have one thing: a choice. And they choose to be courageous. So let’s celebrate that and also speak that into lives that haven’t taken that step yet.
We’re given things like Christmas and Thanksgiving and traditions and gifts and cookies and songs so that we can share it with those who don’t have it.
Don’t be selfish. Share your Christmas.
And please don’t make it complicated. Anyone can do something like this.
It just takes a little love with some action.
Do you make stockings for your kids? Cool. Make 5 extra and take them to the abused children shelter on Christmas. Do you sing in a community choir? Go to the hospital and sing for those spending the day there. Do you have a smile and candy canes? Go downtown where the homeless live and smile and share a conversation around candy canes.
It makes a difference. Every act does.
And it starts the ball rolling. Let’s make goodness fashionable.