SANTA Switch: How To Flip The Focus This Christmas
I recently wrote an article for the Christmas issue of World Vision magazine about how all of us can do something powerful in the world when we operate from a place of radical generosity. As I worked on the article, I kept thinking about a sweet little book Rooney has in her room about St. Nicholas of Myra. We read it here and there throughout the year, but it sparked an idea. It now carries a special meaning for our family this holiday season. The book tells the story of the 4th century Christian bishop who inspired the Christmas gift-giving character of Santa Claus.
Born in Patara, a land that is part of present-day Turkey, circa 280 A.D., a man left with a large sum of money when his parents passed away used it to help the poor. After his death in 344, the legend of his generosity grew. St. Nicholas transformed into the fabled character Santa Claus, the beloved old man who brings presents to children around the world on Christmas Eve. Over the years, while advertising and culture have popularized the image of the jolly, red-suited sleigh operator, many influences have made Santa what he is today.
It’s surprising how easy it can be to get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas and lose sight of what is truly important. I’m guilty of working tirelessly to try and set the right tone and atmosphere for my family during the holiday, without thinking beyond what lies inside and what hangs outside the four walls of our home. We end up devoting a lot of time and energy into placing decorations, preparing events, preserving traditions and planning meaningful experiences for those closest to us, all the while missing the real blessing that comes from thinking like the original St. Nick. If we aren’t careful, our attention can quickly switch to a focus on what we want, leaving little room for thinking of others and what they need.
This year, our family decided to take a few intentional steps back to realign our hearts with the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of the legendary gift-giver. We wanted to make some changes this holiday season to awaken the joy that comes with generosity. It was time to decide, as a family, how we could ask, “What can we give?” instead of, “What can we get?”
So we decided to do what I'm calling a SANTA Switch.
Oh, and I made a PowerPoint. :D
We're going to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by encouraging each other to notice the needs of others and then empowering each other to meet those needs.
One more thing: we want YOU to start this fun and intentional Christmas tradition with us!
1. Grab a journal and a pen of your choice.
It doesn’t even have to be Christmas-themed. Ours has a picture of a bicycle on the front with stitched letters that say Enjoy The Ride!. Keep the journal in your living room or other family space where you can keep it updated as things happen!
Any time you leave the house for school, work, the grocery store, to take a walk - wherever you go, say a quick prayer and ask God to help you to be more deliberate to slow down and see the people around you. Then you’ll notice when one of them needs something.
3. Notice the needs.
During the day, notice the needs of others. What did you notice? Where were you? Who else was there? Why was the person in need?
4. Take action to meet the need of the person.
Whether it’s helping a neighbor unload groceries, donating clothes or food, or simply sitting with someone who is lonely or sad, DO SOMETHING that will take care of the need the person has.
5) Log each entry in your journal.
Keep inventory of what happens and how God shows up as you live generously. Oh, how He can move when we love the people around us!
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Christmas. It is not about opening gifts. It’s about opening hearts to receive the love of Jesus and to shine His light in a dark and broken world that needs to experience Him.
Let’s share the love and gift of God’s Son with others by seeing the needs of others and taking action to meet them.
“The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic his giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.”
St. Nicholas of Myra
Remember, even ONE act of generosity can light up a life.
Have an awesome day!
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If you’re looking for ways to develop your daughter’s character and faith in God, check out my book series, The Adventures of Rooney Cruz. It offers a simple, five-step approach to character development that will help you strengthen her identity and increase her confidence. I just released a brand new series devotional. You can get your copy by clicking here.