a time for giving and forgiving...

Christmas. A time for giving and maybe...forgiving...?

A story I witnessed last week: I was at a local thrift store and, while I was waiting in line to check out my purchases, I overheard a woman ask the cashier why they don't have Depression era glassware any longer. While the cashier attempted to explain the whole concept of it being a donation thing, the other woman interrupted her by spitting out, "I know there is someone who works here who also collects that and thus, there will never be any more set out while she is here because she just buys it for herself!"

My eyes widened at that response. That whole entitlement feeling this woman displayed surprised me. There are many other sources in which to procure collector's items, the internet being one of them.

The reason that I was there was to purchase some doilies for a special event that our local museum was having; a Christmas Open House. They needed the doilies for a brunch table display and I was happy to provide that. Such a small token, I thought, as I paid for my purchase and then, dropped off the doilies at the museum, where I was greeted with hugs and gratitude. I smiled shyly and continued on my errands that day.

The day of the open house, I was stunned by the turnout of so many people. The atmosphere was festive and friendly as I perused the many baked goods that had been made, as well as the many "white elephant" items that were on display for purchase. What stunned me most was what was also for sale on several glass shelves along the wall: Depression era glassware, many sitting on the doilies that I had donated.

Someone else had donated that glassware. Immediately I felt a feeling of remorse. Yes, remorse. As I recalled that conversation from the thrift store, I felt humbled. Had that woman attended this event, would she have been able to appreciate what I witnessed...or would there have been more grousing?

Jesus told stories also of how, throughout time, things given in generosity were not accepted with humility but rather, with remarks of derision, taunts and retorts. Think back to the Israelites...leaving a place that had caused untold generations of Hebrews pain-Egypt- and there they were, in the desert, complaining, because they had little Faith in the One who'd rescued them from the very pits of hell. Now, compare that to the scene of Mary and Joseph...no room at the inn and she had just given birth in a dirty stable. Did she complain at all about the lack of accommodations? It certainly wasn't the Hilton Hotel, yet her heart was filled with love at the miracle that had just taken place.

We are only human, after all, yet we need to stop and think about the reason we feel entitled to having it all, having it now and having the best of everything. We need to step back and understand that in life, there are winners and there are losers, but we can bridge that gap by our being filled with an attitude of gratitude and sharing what we have with those who have less, or nothing at all. Jesus admonished us to look for the need and to share, even as His greatest example proved: feeding 5000 people the loaves and fishes. Even if you are poor, it costs nothing to do a good deed to ease the burden of another.

Soon it will be Christmas. How will you show your gratitude about the reason for the season? It is more about giving from the heart (think "Little Drummer Boy") and less about just accepting a gift with no thought of "what can I do for YOU?"
Have a wonderful day!


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