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December 1, 2011

Giving Christmas Away

I love this time of year. I love soaking up all the christmas music and enjoying all the smells of the holidays. However, as this time of year approaches, I feel like I often get so busy with commitments, parties, shopping, celebrating, etc. I often wonder if I get too swept up in the season that I simple forget the reason behind all the celebration.

So I few months ago, I asked God to open my eyes to the needs of others around me, and boy did He answer. In fact, it started to weigh heavy on my heart. And then I realized that I would need to live this holiday season far differently than I've ever done before in the past. As I processed what it would look like, I realized that I needed to give Christmas away to others this year. There are so many people struggling due to the to economy, with life, with burdens, with heartache. And this time of year is nothing less than hard and painful for them. So I came up with a plan: I decided that I would give one gift away to one stranger for 25 days in December. As I started writing down ideas of gifts to give strangers, I began to see faces of people that I has seen in passing:

The woman who sits on a milk crate next to the redbox machine at my local gas station.

The sweet pregnant lady who somehow always seems to be my cashier at Target.

The homeless man without a coat who holds a sign with a desperate plea for help.

The man who sits on the bench (that I pass on my run) resting his weary body after a long day of work.

The small little girl with no mittens who waits for the school bus to arrive. 

I see their faces, their pain, their desperation. I know I can't change their lives. I can't fulfill them in ways that I wish I could. But I can give them love, encouragement, and hope.

On December 25th, I will be tucked in a warm house. I will have a full stomach. There will be a decorated tree with beautiful wrapped presents underneath. I can't tell you how many years I've taken all that for granted. This year, I want to soak every minute of it up and be overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgivings.

So here goes nothing: 25 gifts, 25 days, 25 strangers.