The message on my Dove chocolate wrapping read, “Do all things in love.” So, in love, I savored my daily chocolate indulgence while sipping a cup of hot coffee! Aah, a simple pleasure that always perks me up.
I thought about this message as I continued on with my activities for the day. Preparing for Christmas usually involves a lot of effort and a long “to do” list. Like everyone else, I get tired and wonder if it’s all necessary.
For myself, I could eliminate some of the preparations. But would that affect the happiness of others? My husband, Drew, loves a fresh Christmas tree. We don’t actually cut our own, but it still involves bundling up and traipsing through tree lots in search of just the right tree. After we cart it home, Drew lies on the floor and tries to harness it into the stand. My job is to hold on to it, and when it’s secure, step back to make sure it’s straight. Sometimes Drew loses patience with me if I take too long or am not specific enough in my instructions. In those moments I think about how much easier it must be to put up an artificial tree with the lights already attached. I wouldn’t have to water it daily either! But I do it because it makes my husband happy.
Then there are the Christmas cards to write out and mail, after the Christmas letter is written (my job). I know others appreciate receiving our greeting, just as I appreciate theirs. So I do it for that reason. Many of our traditions are probably preserved more out of love than anything. We know others would miss it if we stopped.
One year I didn’t bake our Christmas morning Bubble Bread and my grown children loudly protested! I didn’t realize they still cared. So now, each year I make a loaf or two to enjoy Christmas morning, along with the sweet soup Drew makes, one of his childhood traditions. He also makes krumkake, a Scandinavian pastry. Our son, Andrew, comes early to help him—a gesture of love on his part.
The time and effort we expend to do something kind for someone: taking a plate of goodies to a person unable to do their own baking, a meal to someone who’s ill, contributing to charities (especially those that help the hungry or vulnerable individuals)—to spread the joy of the season and show Christ’s love, is even more important.
As we give to others, we are blessed in return. I visited a friend yesterday to encourage her in the midst of her health problems; instead she encouraged me by her appreciation, not only for my visit, but also by the way she recounted all her blessings from God. Even though, physically, she’s unable to “do” for others, she is still using what she has to show love. Her short email message afterwards made me glad I made time to visit her.
Often we say, “it’s the little things that count,” but we may not always believe that, especially if our “to do” list looms large and long in our mind’s eye. However, as we search our memories, generally what stands out is someone’s effort to help or cheer us when we needed it.
This may be a good time to reassess our activities to decide if we are doing them because we genuinely care about other people, we enjoy preserving our traditions, or if we are just trying to impress others. Even if our reasons for doing things are positive, we may still need to adjust our attitude and not grumble about how busy we are.
I think we all enjoy and desire attention, so don’t forget to show yourself a little love by enjoying a special treat and a few moments of relaxation! It may just give us enough of a boost to finish up that pesky list.