Black Friday and What happened to our sense of giving during the holidays?

Seems like the whole black Friday thing has really taken off over the past few years, doesn’t it? I mean, I do not remember getting up at midnight to go stand and wait for a store to open so I could buy my Christmas gifts. I don’t even remember there being any ads for the “door buster” sales when my kids were small, or when I was growing up!

This just shows me how commercialized the whole Christmas season has become. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy putting up decorations and seeing how beautifully decorated others have their homes, but I don’t get so upset anymore when I get my tree up and decorated, and have no gifts to put under it yet. That used to be a major upset for me!! So much so, that one year I wrapped empty boxes and put them under the tree! Tell me that is not pitiful!

But, as I grow in my relationship with Christ, I listen a little more closely to the words of some Christmas songs, such as one playing right now, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” Isn’t that the kind of thing we should be concerned with at this time of year, and always of course. Or, rather than worrying whether we are going to be able to purchase that $50+ video game or other gift for someone on our “list”, how about we concern ourselves with those right around us who are not concerned about that video game or a gift under the tree as much as they are wondering if they will be able to provide their family with ANY kind of Christmas dinner!

I would like to issue a challenge to everyone of you who reads this. I’ll explain the challenge in a moment, but first, let me back up a bit.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group of ladies who all joined together and chose two families to help with the Christmas holidays. These were families that we found either through a church or school. One family was a family of I believe 5 kids and a single mom. She wasn’t even going to be able to put up a tree for her kids. Now, granted, her oldest was a high schooler, but she had a youngster about 2 or so, and you know that child had no understanding of the situation. We raised the funds and materials to provide this family with a Christmas tree, decorations, food for Christmas dinner, and a few other meals as well, and some VERY nice gifts for the entire family, even mom!! She sat and cried as we brought the items into her home. We left the tree for her and her children to decorate, helped her put the groceries away and I believe we even provided her with wrapping paper to wrap the gifts. Her children had no idea where these items came from!!

The second family touched me even more. This was a young family of four. The husband had recently lost his job and was spending every possible minute searching for another, on foot. They did not have funds for gas for their car for him to go look for a job!! They did have a tree already, though nothing under it. It was an artificial they had already had for years according to the mother. This family, with two daughters, both under the age of 8, ALL cried as we brought what we had for them into the house! We provided them with groceries, and of course all the fixings for Christmas dinner! We had MANY gifts for them, some we had pre-wrapped because we knew the girls would be home from school when we delivered them, but the gifts that stand out in my mind the most are a couple of coats. These girls were walking to school every day with only a very light sweater for warmth. Mom’s coat wasn’t much better. When those girls saw they had new jackets, actual coats, you would have thought we gave them a million dollars!!! The squeals and giggles were so wonderful!! Those were gifts we went ahead and gave them because we felt that was an immediate need. The appreciation shown by this family was just so overwhelming I found myself tearing up as the girls watched us put gift after gift under their tree! We had also found a couple of job leads for the father!! I honestly don’t recall if anything came from them or not, but if not, it was not for a lack of trying on his part! This was the most blessed Christmas I think I ever had!!

So, my challenge to all of you is to find a family in need in your area. If you don’t know where to look, contact the local elementary school, churches, or any childrens shelter in your area. And give them more than just a few toys for the kids. Remember those parents aren’t going to get anything either. And, keep in mind that it is very possible that they have no idea where their next meal is coming from. In that case you can go to a local grocery store and purchase a gift card for them. I know, “how do we know they are going to buy healthy food and not beer and cigarettes!” Well, you don’t. But, when you give them the 0pportunity to provide for their family by giving them a gift card, what they do with it is between them and God.

Bottom line, if this is a family who is truly trying to get up on their feet and just keep getting knocked back down, your simple gesture may be just the boost they need!!

Oh, we also provided Bibles in their gifts! One of the little girls, I believe the oldest was so excited that she had her own Bible!!

So, if this is something you seriously want to do, pray about it. Ask God to lead you to the right family or the right need. Give what you can. If we don’t have a turkey for Christmas, but I can provide one for a needy family, I will be just as full as if I had eaten the entire bird myself. There is nothing as rewarding as giving to someone in need and seeing the joy in their faces when they receive.

Now, there are a lot of scenarios where you do not actually get to give the family the gifts yourself, and that is okay too. Just know in your heart that you have made a child and a parent smile and praise God!! Isn’t that our goal? To lead others to praise and follow our savior? To help others to see that God loves them just as much as he loves me.

And, yes, I plan to do just this for Christmas. I’m pretty sure finding a family in need won’t be difficult in today’s economy.

Give whereever you can this Christmas season, even if it means you or your family skips the gifts, or you eat sandwiches for Christmas dinner. God will bless you for your sacrifice!

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