We strung the Christmas lights around the tree the weekend before Thanksgiving this year. It was earlier than usual for us, but the day was quiet and in our hearts it felt right to slowly welcome in the Advent season.
My word this year has been “savor,” and as I unwrapped ornaments and pieces of our nativity, it felt nice to allow the moments to settle over us instead of hurrying through to simply check the task off the holiday to-do list.
Without the hustle and bustle of years past, I was able to enjoy my 4-year-old’s help and wonder as she ignored my request to not put all the ornaments in the same spot of the tree. And when she asked why we decorate our home for Christmas when the holiday is about celebrating Jesus’ birth, I was able to share that for us, the lights on our tree, and the lights we put outside, and the lights on the tiny tree in her room — those are all reminders for us during the Christmas season that God sent His Son to be a light to the world.
That was and is His gift to us, and now our gift to others is to be that same special light — not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
Scripture tells us in Genesis 12:2 that God had a plan for Abram, not simply to bless him, but for Abram to then be a blessing to others. Yes, Abram’s name would be great and his offspring would become a great nation, but he would also be a blessing.
As I think about how I’d like 2015 to end for our family, it would be this — that we would ring in 2016 healthier and stronger than we started 2015 so that we can be a blessing. God has blessed us with so much this year, and as we sat around the Thanksgiving table surrounded by food and family and laughter, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. The kind of gratitude that makes you want to pay the blessing forward so that others can experience a taste of what God has done for you — and will do for them.
How can you be a blessing this Advent season? Here are a few ideas to get us started (and please share more in the comments — I’d love to hear them!):
- Deliver cookies to your neighbors — knowing someone is thinking of you is a blessing, indeed!
- Send Christmas cards in the mail.
- Invite a new family over for hot chocolate.
- Brainstorm an “Advent Intentional Acts of Kindness” challenge with your family.
- Smile and speak kindly when shopping — you might be the only kind person the cashier meets that day!
- Invite friends and their families over to make Christmas ornaments.
- Keep extra blankets and kits of toiletries in your car to hand out if you see someone in need.
- Donate to an organization in honor of a loved one as a gift (like St. Jude or Compassion).
- Bring coffee to your child’s daycare teachers.
- Give the gift of presence to your family.
We are called to be lights to the world, and what better time to shine brightly than at Christmas? Gather friends and family, savor the moments of laughter and joy, and ask God to give you eyes to see and a heart willing to say “yes” to the ways you can be a blessing this season.
We are so blessed, friends. Let’s be the blessing to others.