A Grateful Christmas

Children celebrate Christmas in Myanmar. Photo: © 2012 Khaing Min Htoo/World Vision

Children celebrate Christmas in Myanmar.
Photo: © 2012 Khaing Min Htoo/World Vision

Today we are excited to bring you a guest post from Anna Goodworth, from the emerging WOV Hartford, CT chapter, who shares about her experience preparing for a Christmas full of gratefulness with her family.

Every day we have the opportunity to model gratefulness to the children in our lives. At Christmas, this task somehow seems more important, yet even more difficult. We hope to help them grasp (and honestly hope to grasp ourselves) the gift of grace by which God would send His son into our darkness to be Emmanuel – “God with Us”.  Yet, most everything else from wish lists for Santa to credit card bills for over-spending send signals about materialism that is rampant throughout our culture. A look back into how St. Nicholas’ legend began gives us a glimpse of a man who apparently gave up his wealth to serve God and give to the poor and protect the oppressed. Now, I know the idea of flying reindeer and a bowl full of jelly is kind of cool and all, but I want to know more about the real St. Nicholas – and maybe be a little like him.

Ann Voskamp, author of the beautiful book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (Zondervan), shares 7 meaningful Christmas activities on her blog, including making a “gifts we already have” list and browsing Gift Catalogs. She does an amazing job highlighting the contrast of filling our homes with stuff and filling lives and bellies of those who have so little. It is humbling, but beautiful.

Now, it is likely that you have most of your gifts for those in your life already at this point, but if you don’t, or if they don’t strike your soul as these gifts do, or if you want to start on next year’s birthday gifts, browse though the online gift catalog, choose a gift and personalize a card. When the credit card bill comes, that would be a charge where you can actually remember and easily explain to your spouse: “Oh yeah – that charge was ‘Safety for a Formerly Exploited Child’ for your sister and ‘One Year of School for an Orphan’ for your mom!” It is the best type of shopping and is way more fun.

This year, after investigating the legend of Santa Claus, our family decided to alter our Christmas traditions. We decided remember St. Nicholas for the man he was. He was committed to the glory of God (he suffered while up against heresy as a bishop) and was remembered for to giving to the poor and saving the vulnerable (three girls who were about to be put into prostitution… You don’t see that in “Twas the Night Before Christmas”). So, in honor of that example of giving, our family decided reclaim our stockings and choose gift for each that would value the poor and oppressed. We ended up doing a variety of items from gift catalogs and my kids both got another sponsored child to write to, learn from, and help support. We actually opened our stockings early on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) though we could have done it on Christmas. I thought they might be disappointed to not have stockings full of toys and treats, but my daughter (5 years old) has already written 3 letters and drawn countless pictures to her little sponsored girl (who she framed on her wall). If we had instead given her a stocking full of stuff, I doubt she could have listed off what she’d gotten. I’m grateful for the example of St. Nicholas and for the opportunities through World Vision to give in much meaningful and engaging ways for my family.

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