Christmas definitely won’t be business as usual in 2020! But what kind of Christmas will it be? That is up to us. Usually this time of year is filled with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and a jam-packed schedule of get-togethers, office parties, and celebrations with family and friends. This is normally the season when some of us are meticulously planning, while others procrastinate till the last second and then rush around like chickens with our heads cut off. In either case, given the current circumstances, what kind of gifts are we able to give this Christmas?
Stores and shopping malls are not ideal places in the midst of a pandemic. We may not even get to see the people we normally offer gifts to! What are our alternatives? Maybe ordering gifts online, sending a cheque in the mail, or holding off until COVID calms down a bit. These are good options. But maybe this unusual Christmas points us to a deeper kind of gift-giving.
Indeed, Christmas is all about gifts. Certainly, the commercialized “holiday season” is all about gifts. But Christmas in a truly Christian sense is all about gifts in an even greater way. Not just the gifts we buy at the mall or on Amazon but the gift of the Father who gives us His Son in a manger. The gift of Mary, whose “yes” to God’s plan brings about our salvation. The gift of the peace, joy, and love that fill our hearts in this sacred season.
We need these gifts this Christmas maybe more than any other year. How can we receive these gifts of God and share them with one another, even across the barriers of social distancing?
Here are five simple suggestions for ways that we can give this Christmas:
1) PRESENCE: Physical presence may not be possible, but there are many other ways that we can be present to those we love as well as to those in need. What can we do to show our care to those we cherish and to those who are going to be lonely this Christmas? How can we spend time and offer the gift of our presence even while remaining “socially distant”?
2) PRAYER: Interceding for people is one of the most precious, heartfelt gifts we can offer. How can we take time to pray for our families and friends? How can we intercede for specific groups of people who are suffering at this time – the sick, the grieving, the isolated, the homeless, those who have died, and others? Praying for someone establishes a link between us and them: a bond inhabited by God.
3) FAITH: How can we take this Christmas as a chance to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and share with others the joy of Jesus who comes to save us?
4) HOPE: So many people around us are falling into despair, discouragement, and desolation as COVID wears down our hope. What can we do to offer people a bit of light, comfort, and encouragement?
5) LOVE: At a time when so many people feel shaken and abandoned, how can we find creative ways of sharing God’s love? Maybe getting back in the habit of sending Christmas cards, finding an opportunity to volunteer, or baking up some delicious Christmas goodies to share with our neighbours, friends, and the hungry in our community.
Whatever this Christmas may look like, how can you give more deeply?
This year as every year, God gives Himself to us. He wants us to share Him with others by giving in return.
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julian Paparella is a theology student at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Rome. Born and raised in London, Ontario, he has worked in pastoral ministry in Montreal and Paris, especially with young people. Julian strives to communicate our faith in a way that resonates with everyday life, helping people to better experience God today. He is engaged to be married to Marion.