The Ultimate Gift

When online shopping became widely available, I was convinced I would never use it. I liked shopping in the outlet mall and department stores, perusing the sale flyers and hunting for bargains. I wanted to see the merchandise up close and try the clothing on for size. You can’t do that with a virtual shopping cart.

Then Christmas came along. 

The stores were hot and over-crowded and people were crabby. Everything was picked over and I could never find the right size and color. The checkout lines were endless and the return lines were even longer.  And forget about finding a parking spot within reasonable walking distance to the store! By the time I got home I was exhausted and in a “Bah-humbug” mood. It was time for a change.

For the past two years, I’ve done most of my holiday shopping online. I avoid Black Friday mall madness, opting instead for Cyber Week sales. When I do venture out, it is usually to support one of the small local shops where I can find unique specialty gifts in a more relaxed setting. They even serve refreshments and offer free gift wrapping!

My mom once told me that my dad liked shopping on Christmas Eve when we were kids. That blew my mind. Wouldn’t that have been nerve-wracking, worrying about finding a particular gift so late in the season and at the last possible moment? 

Today, although I am grateful for the convenience of modern technology, I long for the bygone days. Once upon a time, Christmas was simpler, and it saddens me that our children and grandchildren will never know those days except through TV movies, family photo albums and stories shared around the table.

But perhaps we can still create meaningful traditions with our families that capture the true meaning of giving. We can provide Christmas gifts for homeless children in our community, spend time with a homebound senior, or bring a meal to new neighbors. These may seem like small gestures, but by giving to others, we remind our families why we are celebrating this special day.

““You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬

Jesus came into this world to shine light into the darkness. He brought the gift of light and love, giving hope to those who felt lost and alone, He continues to shine that same light today, and His presence is felt through the hands of others who hold, help and heal.

There is no greater gift we can give at Christmas and all throughout the year.

Some Things Never Change

Fall is officially here! Welcome cooler weather and changing leaves, flannel shirts and frosty eves! I’ll take it all over the soggy, sultry summer we have had here in Virginia.

Even though my husband detests the cold weather, he is ready to put away his garden tools. It has not been a good summer for our vegetable garden. His tomatoes, in particular, have suffered from all sorts of disease and pests this summer, likely caused by all the damp weather.

I am grateful that I live in an area where I experience a variety of seasons, fall being my favorite one. I don’t think I would like living anywhere that has the same climate year-round. I would miss the emerging buds in March and the arrival of migrating songbirds and hummingbirds in April and May. I would miss listening for the first peepers, crickets and cicadas in the early summer months. And call me crazy, but I would miss the first feathery frost in October, and the first snow flurries around Thanksgiving.

In this ever-changing world, is there anything that remains the same?

Yes, there is! There is one truth that will never change:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:8‬

No matter what life throws my way, I am confident in the steadfast love of Jesus, who was, is, and ever will be — my unchanging Savior.