We are two steps into the holiday season and if you are not already overwhelmed with signs and jingles and commercials about everything you need to buy to supposedly make life cheery, you will be very soon. I heard the first Christmas song of the season on the radio Halloween morning. Silly radio people getting their holidays all mixed up. I happen to be a fan of Christmas music for any-time-of-the-year listening because I find hope in the story of Jesus’ birth. Emmanuel, God with us. Such a hope. But I was still surprised to hear Christmas music on the radio in October.
It is sad to me that Christmas has become about excess and materialism and our own unique brand of discontent…the kind that searches for fulfillment in the consuming of more food and more stuff than anyone really needs.
I don’t think we mean to be voracious consumers. It’s just so easy to believe, when we look around at the frenzy and the ‘fun’, that this is what celebrating is supposed to look like. It CAN look like that, but it doesn’t have to. I am hoping to purposefully pursue celebrating the holidays from another angle…one that is simple and marked by generosity.
We usually equate generosity with money (for good reason…it is good to give money to causes of worth), but how else can we be generous? If we don’t have dollars to toss every which direction, what else might generosity look like? What does it look like to live a truly generous life?
I think generosity is a posture of the heart. It is about giving something we have to bless others, and it really doesn’t have to be money to make a difference in someone’s life. I strive (and struggle) to be a generous person. In theory, I like the idea of generosity, but sometimes I find that old habits (ahem, selfishness) keep me from living this well. I’m a work in progress, I suppose.
I’m starting small. Every day I look for ways to be generous with my children–to give them undivided attention when I can, hearty laughter over their antics, and gentle words when they need correction. For the record, these are my ideals, not always the reality. Some years ago, I stayed with a family for a summer in college and the mom laughed so often, it was ridiculous and awesome. Seeing the way her children lit up when she laughed has stayed with me over the years. I want my children to really know how much I delight in them. What better thing is there than laughter in the home?
I think we can be generous by being kind to others when it isn’t expected. Offer encouraging words. Show kindness through an act of service. Show up. Listen. Everyone we meet has challenges and heartaches of their own whether we see them immediately or not, and every time we encounter someone, we have an opportunity to reach out and leave a bright spot in their day. Just a few days ago, I was with a friend at Costco. I usually just get through the line and head home, but my friend struck up a sweet conversation with the cashier and during the 2 minutes we were in her line, we had the opportunity to hear some of her story and and my friend offered some kind words in return. It was a reminder for me to be a little less hurried and a little more friendly as I go about my daily life. I often feel very shy in groups/public places, but this is one area I’d love to learn how to be more generous in.
And lastly (for now), I think we can be generous by sharing our lives openly. I can’t tell you how many one-liner thoughts I’ve chewed on for days afterwards from a random person who just blurted out a revelation or experience in conversation, or posted about a life lesson or observation on their facebook status. Your life and your story matters, and if you generously share it, you never know whose lives you will touch.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
441. friends over for the afternoon, 442. freezer meals to the rescue, 443. before-bed reading time, 444. cuddles, 445. learning how to let go