This is a great time of the year. For a few weeks we get to be kids again, relishing the joy and wonder of this special season. For those of us on whom fortune has smiled it is a magical season, and a special opportunity to reach out to those who aren’t as blessed.
One of the central themes of this time of year is the giving and receiving of gifts.
When we’re little, our focus is on what we’ll get. We write our letter to Santa, watch the pile of gifts grow under the tree, and go to bed on Christmas Eve with visions of sugarplums and XBoxes and Barbie dolls dancing in our heads.
As we get older, though, the focus turns to what we’re going to give. Our lists shift from what we want, to what the perfect gifts will be. Since we’re Americans and can’t help ourselves, we get carried away, and indulge in such iffy traditions like Black Friday shopping sprees. Many decry the crass consumerism of the season, and they’re probably right. But underneath all of that shopping is a hidden testament to the basic goodness of people—we like to give.
Jesus said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. He didn’t say that there was anything wrong with receiving, just that the giving part was more blessed. And more joy-filled. This is something that we all probably know instinctively. The secret is learning what sort of giving is the most righteous and gives the most joy.
The problem with most of the gifts we get and give at Christmas is that they have a fairly short lifespan—they tend to turn to dust and rust. While the giving of these gifts is great fun and not a bad thing, the joy they bring is transitory. We can all remember one special gift that we found under the tree as a child. Few of us, though, still have that treasure to hold and admire.
The greatest gifts are those that improve the quality of the recipient’s life. They can be something as simple as a flower to lift the spirits of someone in distress or as significant as a new house.
On Dec. 20, we’ll launch a 24-hour house-building campaign, just to give folks the chance to grab one more bit of joy from the season. We’ll be promoting it on our Web site and Facebook pages—be watching for it.
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