Thanksgiving is over. We survived Black Friday, and Cyber Monday seems to be stretching itself all the way to Friday. The Hallmark channel now plays constantly on at least one television in every home in America (come on, admit it). Santa is receiving letters and is making a list and checking it twice. The ads on television and on the Internet are telling us that those lists need to be longer, the letters fatter, the asking louder, the gifts bigger. It has always amazed me that we spend an entire day giving thanks for all we have and then turn around within ten hours (or substantially less for some) and begin focussing on what we don’t have, what we want, what we must have, or else. Perhaps others also see the irony in this, and that is the reason why this commercial, from Forest Hill Church, in Charlotte, North Carolina, has gone viral in the past couple days.
Believe me, I am just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to focussing on gift giving at Christmas (and gift getting). I sent a link to my family for an item I’d really like to have with the suggestion they buy it while it’s on sale. And I’ve sent links to my extended family with gift suggestions for my girls. It’s how we’ve always done things, and it’s hard for me to see anything wrong with it, but something I read the other day really made me stop in my tracks. It was a gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron.
So, now I have a confession to make. Even after reading this, I still went to Amazon on Monday. And I still clicked on the BUY button for that giant-screen TV I’ve been longing for. And I’m really excited that it arrives tomorrow. Yes, we have a decent-sized television. Yes, it works just fine. We’re going to move it to our bedroom and replace the one in there because the screen on that one seems to have gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older. Ken keeps kidding that we now have to tear down the living room and build a bigger one that will fit the new TV. “…tear them down and build bigger ones.”
Gulp–the sound of me swallowing that lump in my throat.
Wow. I wonder if the rich man had more than just his possessions. Did he have a family? Did he have friends? Was he in good health? If he were real and alive today, would he awaken like the man in the Forest Hills ad and be grateful for all that he has? Would he see the riches and blessings that he has before him and know in his heart that he doesn’t need more? Would he recognize that all he needs to make him happy is love? The love of God, the love of others, and love for himself as he is, without possessions, without riches, without STUFF.
We live in a world where the grass is always greener on the other side. We always want what someone else has, and sometimes we want what we can never have. We ask for more and more; we work longer and harder so that we can buy more. We do this even though our closets are bursting, our drawers won’t close, and our cups runneth over with things. And how happy are we? Even with a family, a home, electricity, hot food, cars, and coffee, are we still looking for more? When will we be satisfied? When will we realize that we already have enough? When will we realize that love is all we need? That it is love that makes us wealthy, not things?
There are 27 days until Christmas. That gives me 27 days to remind myself and my family, every single day, what Dr. Seuss tried to tell us many years ago:
We have all already received many, many gifts. Even those who don’t have many “things” still have blessings for which to be thankful. Let’s take the Thanksgiving spirit with us right into Christmas and beyond. Let’s be grateful for all that we have, and let’s spend the Christmas season thinking about giving rather than getting. Begin thinking today about what you can do to help others see that we all have so much for which to be thankful, and let’s all remember as we go through Advent that “Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
In one simple word, the meaning of Christmas is, love. Love that is never-ending, all-encompassing, and self-sacrificing. We don’t need Santa to bring us more stuff. We’ve already been given the greatest gift of all – love. All we need to do is open our hearts, not our closets, to giving and receiving more.
What I was writing about a year ago this week: Food Memories.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).