This article has been written and supplied with permission from Jari Smith, a 96five community contributor.
For many of us, Christmas is something we genuinely look forward to and find joy in. Reading the story of the first Christmas, spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and of course, eating more than we normally would on any other day.
The lead up to Christmas is also part of the fun. Christmas trees, peppermint candy canes, and God’s second best gift to us (Ferrero Rochers), are a given in most local shopping centres and in some of our homes.
But Christmas can be a time where our community’s most vulnerable people can feel like there’s no place for them. There are quite possibly many reasons why someone would feel out of place at Christmas.
- First, those who have limited family or friends may feel like they are imposing themselves if they attempt connection at this time (or any other time). Christmas can be a harsh reminder of a day that, quite simply, brings more anxiety than joy for them.
- Secondly, those who are homeless are reminded for almost 4 months of the year that Christmas is a time for having family over and eating home cooked meals in abundance, thanks to early advertising.
- Thirdly, there are struggling families who cannot get their children something substantial for Christmas. And even though a lot of us can agree that children don’t need expensive gifts, we can’t deny the pressure put on parents in this matter.
It isn’t a bad thing that Christmas is a time for family and celebrating Christ. In fact, it’s excellent! And I secretly LOVE that I can start Christmas shopping in September.
It’s also okay that our society in general is quite busy, and Christmas is no exception to this. But being aware of those around us who may be anxious of the day we hold sacred, and showing love in small ways whenever we think of it can make a difference.
So, how can we give hope and joy to others this Christmas? Here are a few small ideas that can make a difference in other people’s lives –
- If someone at the shops strikes up a conversation with you, have a chat with them. They may be feeling lonely and this chat could make their day. (You don’t have to let a salesman perfect their sales pitch on you, though!) Also, if you stop for a mini break on the chairs in the middle of the shops (thank you, chairs!) and someone sits next to you – say hi!
- If someone says that they don’t like Christmas, don’t minimise their feelings. Accept that this season can be hard and, if you have the time, listen to their feelings about Christmas. The more understanding we have of each other, the more compassion we can show.
- If you are hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, invite one or two extra people over. This may not be financially viable for some (the holidays can stretch the budget), but if it’s possible and you know someone who will be spending Christmas alone, invite them over. Bonus points if you have a small gift for them! Note: if you can’t have anyone extra over for Christmas day, offer to have the person over for coffee another day soon after.
- Send Christmas cards to everyone in your street. Well wishes can mean a lot when it isn’t just an expectation.
Christmas is an absolutely miraculous time. The birth of Jesus is to be celebrated for all its glory. And we should never apologise for loving this time of year. Let’s not keep our celebrations to ourselves or just to our nuclear families. Let’s blow someone away with our kindness and generosity, and our witness as Christians. Let someone know God’s heart for them.