The theme of the prominent holidays, whether Christmas, Chanakkah, or even Solstice puts the focus OUTSIDE of ourselves. Christmas is the focus on the historical event (though the timing and details may be in question) of the birth of Jesus Christ. Chanakkah celebrates the event of mysterious (or miraculous) enduring oil in the candle within the Temple. The oil reportedly burned, but was not consumed. Solstice celebrates the astrological turn of the earth. Dec 21 is the shortest day of the year, after which the days begin to grow noticeably longer.

It is remarkable to me that there is agreement in the outward focus of these winter holidays, and no matter which you enjoy and celebrate personally, they share the common threads of doing kindness to others. “Peace on earth; good will to men … ”

What a wonderful thing it would be if we could each think a little more about the needs and feelings of others, not just now during the holiday season, but year round. What important changes could take place if only we would take a minute and THINK before speaking harsh words. Just imagine apologizing instead of flipping someone the bird in traffic! America doesn’t need billionaire philanthropists on every corner. We need kind and thoughtful adults manifesting grown-up behavior when accidentally crossed or when a need presents itself. We can fix the mess of America. Please try it this Christmas! Smile instead of cussing. Wave instead of trying to beat that person to the check out. No more stampedes, please! Let’s try it this way and see what happens! Who knows, there may be a nice “gift” in it for you in return.

The Christmas Story

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

A true gift, a gift of love, never expects anything in return. Is this the motivation behind the gifts you and I give? It certainly continues to be the motivation behind the gift of Jesus – God incarnate – to those who choose to receive Him.