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It’s Christmas.  What are you getting your loved ones?  How much are you spending?  What is the gift you are most excited to give?  What gift are you sure is going to get the reaction you are looking for?  Have you even started shopping?  Are you already done?  It’s all about the gifts.

You are expecting me to say that it isn’t about the gifts.  You are expecting me to say that the gifts aren’t the true reason for the season (or some kitschy slogan like that).  I’m not.  Gifts are a great reminder of the true gift that Jesus was/is to mankind.  I have some ways for you to give some great gifts this Christmas season….and it will cost you next to nothing.

At my church we spend five minutes each Sunday on a segment called, “Learn to Love.”  I give simple ways to love people by meeting their emotional needs (attention, acceptance, respect, encouragement, comfort, etc.).  We all have physical needs (food, water, shelter).  We have intellectual needs (learning, hobbies, thinking).  We have spiritual needs (praying, church, bible studies).  There are ample ways of meeting those three areas of needs.  However, your emotional needs are only met within a relationship.   It is no secret that many relationships are not perfect, damaged, or even downright broken.  That is why we spend time finding ways to meet emotional needs.

So, this Christmas, here are some ways you can love others by meeting emotional needs.

  1.  In the spirit of the dreaded “Christmas card” that drives families apart through the picture taking and costs involved, send one card to someone who really needs it.  Have it be an old school Christmas card.  Write in it…a lot.  Tell them what you appreciate about them.  Encourage them.  Point out what’s good about them.  Spend a little bit of time on it.  The more random of a person that you choose the better.  If you send it to your spouse or relative…fine.  You send it to someone like an elementary school teacher (or your child’s for that matter) and you’ll have a much greater impact.  No matter who you send it to, they will feel blessed.
  2. Check in with someone who you know is having a different Christmas.  Perhaps they’ve lost a loved one this past year.  Maybe they’re out of a job.  Maybe they’ve moved.  Perhaps they’re going to be alone for the first time.  It could be anything.  Simply check in and point out that you know that this year is different and that you care.  If they open up and share…great.  If they don’t, no problem.  The gift is the intention and time you took to think and care.
  3. Reminisce.  If you still have your parents, talk about what they did for you as a child.  Remember the “good old days” or, if you have to, “what was not so bad about the bad old days” if you get my drift.  Bring back all that was important to them about the Christmas’ past.  If you have children, talk about their favorite gifts, their favorite decorations, their favorite meals and memories.  Regardless of who, point out something someone has done for you in the past that blessed you.
  4. Point out that you notice what is important to someone else and how they’ve accomplished that.  The neighbor that has a thousand lights?  Tell them that their house looks festive.  The friend that bought their gifts in May and wrapped them in July?  Tell them how you appreciate how much peace of mind they must have.  The friend that has the huge real tree that takes up their entire living room?  Tell them how great it looks and laugh with them.  The friend that bakes and bakes and bakes?  Point out how many people are going to blessed by those cookies.
  5. Lastly, ask people what they are doing for Christmas.  Just that.  They can take it any way they want.  What are they buying?  Where are they going?  What are they getting?  What are they cooking?  Are they travelling or are they hosting?  Then, however they respond, join them in that.  It might be their best Christmas ever.  Great, join them in that.  They may be on the verge of the worst Christmas ever.  Cry with them.  They may just say that nothing is noteworthy.  Fine, wish them well and move on.

Is this all that you can do?  No.  Do you have to do them all?  No.  These are just some ways to give people some peace in this Christmas season.  These are some ways to love people.  You are more of gift to the people in your world than you would ever imagine.

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