3 Ways to Give Love at Christmas
Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas
At Christmas, in our own special ways, we thank God for His gift of love. We thank Him by preparing our hearts by living just as He has taught us in His great commandment:
You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. We prepare our hearts just like the manger was prepared with little straws, gathered and piled up, to receive the little baby.
To prepare our hearts requires a sense of purpose. Preparing our hearts is not happenstance. It is not opportunistic. It is looking for a way, planning, and putting into action our plan. Without a plan, Christmas will be upon us and we will have run out of days to prepare our hearts just as if there were not enough straws to soften up the manger,
Who is our neighbor? Our neighbor is everyone, near or far, family or stranger, friend or foe, the elderly and the young, poor and rich. Our country has been involved in long wars. Our men and women in the military have put their lives on the line for us. We prepare our hearts by being there for our neighbor and for our military. We prepare our hearts when we think of them and help them.
1. Help Your Neighbors
Say hello to everyone especially the ones you meet regularly! To know how we can help, we have to be sensitive to the needs of others. Look, listen, ask and observe! A neighbor might need help in getting supplies from the drugstore or the market. Someone might need our extra woolen blankets, coats and jackets on days and nights that can be miserably cold. It is almost impossible for us to know how we can help if we do not say hello and be a friend.
Check with your church and find out how you can reach the poor. In our church, there are ministries that collect food year-round to be packed to give to the poor. During the holidays, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, they pack ingredients to prepare holiday foods. There is a ministry that collects toys to be brought to an orphanage in Mexico a few days before Christmas which it has done so for several years now.
There are organizations, locally and with a nationwide reach, that you can call. The are organizations that help the poor and the homeless both young and old. Keep in mind that there are teenagers, hundreds of them, who have run away from home and are living on the streets. Many more like unwed mothers, widows, the sick, the institutionalized elderly will appreciate your helpful efforts . All you have to do is focus and concentrate on finding them.
2. Help the Elderly
Be a friend. Most of the time, the elderly just want a daily affirmation that they are still important and appreciated. Seniors have a wealth of knowledge and experience and all one has to do is ask.
There is a great way that the young can be a great resource to the elderly. Digital prowess is lost on the elderly but has been taken for granted by the young. Think how the internet can contribute to the elderly's sense of adventure and curiosity!
3. Help Our Men & Women in Uniform
Our men and women in uniform stationed overseas and sailors in the high seas dream of home. To ease their pain from being away from their families at this time, we send cards and gifts and wish them a happy Christmas.
Please go to the Department of Defense website for details on the America Supports You program.
The U.S. Postal Service no longer accepts "Any Service Member" or "Any Wounded Service Member" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered. Course your donations, letters, gift packages through registered charitable organizations.
Support Organizations That Help US Military Men and Women
The following list of charitable organizations show an extensive array of opportunities to help our troops both active or not. Take extra care to get to know the organizations before signing up, sending money or gifts; and, check their legitimacy and whether they are registered with the IRS or not.
- Adopt a Platoon - Support the troops through gifts and sponsored mail.
- Any Soldier - Sponsor care packages to servicemembers in Iraq.
- Blue Star Mothers - Send postcards and care packages to troops.
- Books for Soldiers - Donate books, movies, and more.
- Cell Phones for Soldiers - Donate your old cell phones, which pay for calling cards for our troops.
- A Million Thanks - Send letters and emails of appreciation to our armed forces.
- Operation Give - Donate toys to be given to the children of Iraq.
- Operation Gratitude - Contribute to care packages sent to our service members.
- Operation Homefront Hugs - Contribute to care packages, or adopt a service member.
- American Red Cross Armed Forces - Support this organization that offers medical services to active duty, veterans, reservists and families nationwide.
- Armed Services Blood Program - Donate blood that will be sent to areas of need around the world.
- Blinded Veterans Association - Support this organization that provides care and support for blind veterans and their families.
- CAUSE: Comfort for America's Uniformed Services Elite - Provide comfort items for troops recuperating in military hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
- Fisher House - Support families whose loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals.
- VA Voluntary Service - Volunteer to help care for wounded veterans.
- The Walter Reed Society - Walter Reed Society helps provide for the needs of many returning injured servicemembers and their families.
- USO - Donate to the USO for hospital support for recuperating soldiers, USO entertainment tours and other important services.
- The Freedom Alliance - Support this organization that organizes donations and contributions for our servicemembers, and also awards scholarships.
- Operation Purple - Support this program of the National Military Family Association (NMFA) that provides educational camps for military children.
- Air Force Aid Society - Support this relief organization for Air Force servicemembers, veterans, and families.
- American Legion - Support this group that organizes blood donation, volunteer networks, purchase flags of support, and more.
- The Armed Forces Foundation - Support this organization that provides support and education help to our troops.
- Armed Services YMCA - Support this organization that provides educational, recreational, social and religious support to the military.
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance - Support this relief organization for Coast Guard servicemembers, veterans, and families.
- Freedom Calls Foundation - Support this organization that contributes to videoconferencing facilities that put servicemembers in touch with their families.
- The Home Front Cares - Support this organization that provides support for the Pikes Peak Region's military families of all services by distributing funds, goods and services to needy families.
- Homes for Our Troops - Support this organization that assists injured veterans and their families by building new or adapting existing homes for handicapped accessibility.
- Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund - Support this Fund that provides unrestricted grants to the families of military personnel who have given their lives in the current operations in defense of our country.
- Military Pets Foster Project - Support this nationwide network of foster homes that cares for the pets of deployed personnel.
- Navy/Marine Relief Society - Support this relief organization for Navy servicemembers, veterans, and families.
- Operation Child Care - Support this organization that provides child care services for the families of Reserve and National Guard members.
- Operation Hero Miles - Donate your unused frequent flyer files to servicemembers.
- Special Operations Warrior Foundation - Support this organization that provides college scholarship grants, financial aid and educational counseling to the children of Special Operations personnel killed in an operational mission or training accident.
- The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) - Support this organization that provides services and support for survivors of late service members.
- Unmet Needs - Support the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) program that donates money to help with military families' financial necessities.
- Department of Veterans Affairs-Donate your time and talent to the VA.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars - Support this organization that features a full range of veteran services and advocacy programs.
- Wounded Warrior Project - This project serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families
- Yellow Ribbon America - Show your support with a yellow ribbon.
Just like the Boy Scouts try to do “a good turn daily”, if we just think everyday of how we can help, our hearts will be prepared. The little things that we do will add up just like, we hope, there were enough little straws in the manger.
Joyous Feelings are Shared with Family and Friends Through Christmas Carols, Decorations, Gifts
As Christmas approaches, the call to share with others ascends to a loud crescendo. The anticipation of seeing our love ones urges us to go all over town to search for gifts we can give. We pray for inspiration when we contemplate ideas for gifts. We would like to give a gift that would make that special person feel really special. What will Dad need when he goes for his spring fishing expeditions? Would Mom like a new scarf? A new purse? My brother needs new earphones. My sister wants a new sweater. The golfer might enjoy a sports magazine. The hiker might want a lighter stove or a new GPS.
We wrap and pack the scarves, shawls and afghans we knitted and crochetted weeks before. We make cards and bake cookies to send to family and friends far away. It warms my heart to know that I am also in someone's list even if the greetings come but once a year,
Our joyous feelings and anticipation for the coming of friends and family sends us into a frenzy decorating our homes. Outside the house for many to see, we put lights on our trees, roofs and windows. We drape garlands and hang wreaths on our windows and doors. Inside our homes, we decorate a Christmas tree with silvery tinsels, bright colored shiny balls, and a bright star or pretty angel on top. We display nativity scenes with the holy family in a stable surrounded by shepherds with sheep and three wise men bearing gifts..
It's Finally Christmas
The night before Christmas brings many of us to church to spiritually celebrate the coming of Christ. Others will go to church the following morning. We sing “Joy to the World” and feel the happiness that God’s love brings.
At home, while the little ones are sleeping, Santa Claus will come to bring toys and when Santa comes, he is welcomed with cookies and milk.
We invite family and friends to our homes for coffee and cookies, for dinner, and a night of singing Christmas carols.
We spread out our special tablecloths - white, silver, red or green, red and green. We prepare our best festive dishes. We mix hot cocoa, wassail, or eggnog to chase the cold away.
We finally present our gifts. We receive our gifts. We talk about our gifts.
As we now rest and prepare to sleep, we think of how our Christmas was. We are happy that we have prepared our hearts. We have loved. We are the gift we gave others. And we hope that Christmas will always be in our hearts.
Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.