CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

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What a wonderful time of the year! When I hear the beautiful music, see the lights, and feel the chill in the air, I am transported back to the many occasions throughout my life when the spirit of Christmas has warmed my heart and lifted my soul.
Like many of you, I find that some of the warmest and most vivid memories of Christmas come from my childhood. Although I grew up in modest circumstances, my parents wanted Christmas to be a time of joy and wonder for their children. They went to great lengths to make Christmas a special time for our family.
We children made gifts for each other. One year, I remember drawing a picture as a Christmas gift for my brother. It could not have been a work of art, but he treated it like a treasure. How I love him for that.
Isn’t one of the great joys of Christmas seeing the excited faces of little children as they take in their hands a wrapped gift that is just for them?
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As we get older, however, our ability to receive gifts with the same enthusiasm and grace seems to diminish. Sometimes people even get to the point where they can’t receive a gift or, for that matter, even a compliment without embarrassment or feelings of indebtedness. They mistakenly think that the only acceptable way to respond to receiving a gift is by giving back something of even greater value. Others simply fail to see the significance of a gift—focusing only on its outward appearance or its value and ignoring the deep meaning it has to the sincere giver.
This reminds me of an event that took place during the last night of the Savior’s life. He gathered His beloved disciples around Him, broke bread with them, and gave them precious final instructions. Do you remember that as the meal progressed, Jesus rose from the table, poured water into a basin, and began to wash His disciples’ feet?
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When He came to Simon Peter, the fisherman refused, saying, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” The Savior gently corrected him: “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”I’m sure Peter thought he had noble reasons for refusing this gift and felt he was doing the right thing. But at that moment he clearly did not understand the spiritual significance of what Jesus was offering him. At Christmastime we talk a lot about giving, and we all know that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” but I wonder if sometimes we disregard or even disparage the importance of being a good receiver.
Take this story, for instance. On a Christmas day many years ago, a young girl received a beautiful beading kit.
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The girl’s father suggested that she make something for one of her relatives who had assembled for a family party.The girl’s face lit up, and she went to work creating what she thought would be a perfect gift. She picked out the person she wanted to make it for—an elderly aunt with an unhappy face and a harsh personality.
“Perhaps if I make her a bracelet,” the little girl thought, “it will make her happy.”
And so she carefully selected each bead and did her very best to make this a special gift for her aunt. When she finally finished, she approached her aunt, handed her the bracelet, and told her she had designed it and made it just for her.
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Silence descended on the room as the aunt picked up the bracelet with her finger and thumb as though she were holding a string of slimy snails. She looked at the gift, squinted her eyes and scrunched up her nose, and dropped the bracelet back into the hands of the little girl. She then turned away from her without saying one word and began talking to someone else.
The little girl blushed with embarrassment. With deep disappointment she quietly walked out of the room. Her parents attempted to console her. They tried to help her understand that the bracelet was beautiful—regardless of her aunt’s insensitive reaction. But the little girl couldn’t help feeling unhappy every time she thought of this experience.
Decades have passed, and the little girl—now an aunt herself—still remembers, with a bit of sadness, that day when her childlike gift was refused.
Every gift that is offered to us—especially a gift that comes from the heart—is an opportunity to build or strengthen a bond of love. When we are good and grateful receivers, we open a door to deepen our relationship with the giver of the gift. But when we fail to appreciate or even reject a gift, we not only hurt those who extend themselves to us, but in some way we harm ourselves as well.
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The Savior taught that unless we “become as little children, [we] shall not enter … the kingdom of heaven.”
As we watch the excitement and wonder of children at this time of the year, perhaps we can remind ourselves to rediscover and reclaim a precious and glorious attribute of children—the ability to receive graciously and with gratitude.
Not surprisingly, the Savior is our perfect example not only of generous giving but also of gracious receiving. When He was in Bethany, near the end of His mortal ministry, a woman approached Him with an alabaster box of rare and expensive oil.
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She was allowed to anoint His head with this precious gift. Some who witnessed this event became angry. “What a waste of money,” they said. The oil was extremely expensive. It could have been sold and the money given to the poor. They saw only the temporal value of the gift and entirely missed its much greater spiritual significance. But the Savior understood the symbolism and the expression of love in that gift, and He received it graciously.
“Let her alone,” He said to those who murmured. “Why trouble ye her? … She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.”
My dear friends, what kind of receivers are we? Do we, like the Savior, recognize gifts as expressions of love?
I hope that this Christmas and every day of the year we will consider, in particular, the many gifts we have been given by our loving Heavenly Father. I hope we will receive these gifts with the wonder, thankfulness, and excitement of a child.
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My heart grows tender and warm as I think of the gifts our loving, gracious, and generous Father in Heaven has given us: the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, the miracle of forgiveness, personal revelation and guidance, the Savior’s peace, the certainty and comfort that death is conquered—and many, many more.
Above all, God has given us the gift of His Only Begotten Son, who sacrificed His life “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Have we received these gifts with humble gratitude, with joy? Or do we reject them out of pride or a false sense of independence? Do we feel our Father’s love expressed in these gifts? Do we receive them in a way that deepens our relationship with this wonderful, divine Giver? Or are we too distracted to even notice what God gives us each and every day?
We know that “God loveth a cheerful giver,” but does He not also love a good, grateful, and cheerful receiver?
Whether we have experienced 9 Christmases or 90, still we are all children—we are all children of our Heavenly Father.
Therefore, we have it within us to experience this Christmas season with the wonder and the awe of a child. We have it within us to say, “My heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God”—the Giver of all good gifts. With you, and with all those who desire to follow the gentle Christ, I lift my voice in praise of our mighty God for the precious gift of His Son.
This Christmas season and always, I pray that we will see the marvelous gift of the birth of the Son of God through the blessed eyes of a child. I pray that in addition to giving good gifts, we will strive to become good and grateful receivers. As we do so, the spirit of this season will enlarge our hearts and expand our joy beyond measure. Amen.
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About Ezar

I'm in love with my dreams, married to success and having an affair with life ;) I live for the moments you can't put into words and I dont look back...unless there's a good view.

Posted on December 18, 2014, in Relationship and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. The only gift I have to give, is the ability to receive. If giving is a gift, and it surely is, then my gift to you is to allow you to give to me. Goodmorning, Ezar.

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  2. Wonderful as always. Giving cheerfully usually isn’t too difficult, as those times when you are not cheerful you are less likely to part with stuff, right? The trick can be accepting, gratefully, a cheerfully given gift. “Oh look, it’s a fruitcake. How nice.” I believe we’ve all been there. When you’re a dad, you get to work on gratefully accepting yet another tie on Father’s day. But, with a little practice, and with some compassion for the person giving the gift, it can be amazingly easy. You just have to focus on the other person, and not on yourself. And there you will find the blessing, hidden within the act of compassion for the feelings of the giver.

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  3. Great post. I am working on receiving. I give and give, but for some reason do not “receive” very well; especially if a family buys me something when I know they could have used the money elsewhere. I’m working on being generous receiver – maybe I’ll make it my New Year’s resolution…

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  4. Sometimes, it is not our ability to give something in return, but our ability to receive the gifts given us that counts. Our relationships are greatly enhanced when we become not only generous givers, but generous receivers as well, people who accept gifts gladly, thankfully, wholeheartedly, with the kind of smile you’ll never forget. Receiving opens up a great channel, it allows love to flow. It recognizes the love of the giver, and it also shows how you think of yourself.

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  5. Hello, Ezar. Thanks for this. The main point here is appreciation. Voltaire once said ‘Appreciation is an excellent thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us, as well.’

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  6. While the old proverb tells us it is better to give than receive, countless people bemoan the absence of grateful receivers.Thank you letters seem to be a relic of the past and expressions of gratitude are often drowned out in a sea of complaints about what is wrong with the world. When you get back nothing or little in response to what you give, it’s natural to feel mystified or even resentful. Interestingly, our culture spends a lot of time on the value of giving, while little attention is paid to receiving. Yet, for every giver there is a receiver. And when something is not received well—whether it is candy, a gift, or a compliment—we notice! With a little time left before the holiday season arrives, it’s not too late to strengthen your ability to receive and help others brush up on their receiving skills. Don’t think for a second that a lack of acknowledgment or a refusal to receive is not noticed by the person who gave! When we don’t receive graciously, we thwart an opportunity for connection and prevent a mutually satisfying transaction from occurring. To be grateful is to be receptive to life’s abundance. Gratitude is a state of mind, a way of seeing life, of noticing and relating to life. There are those who have an overall attitude of gratitude. Conversely, some people are rarely grateful— even when people bend over backward to give to them.

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  7. This Christmas season , receive from the people who give to you. Listen to what they say, notice what they do, and most of all, respond with a sincere ‘thank you!’

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  8. When you express your appreciation, when you respond graciously to compliments, offers of help, gifts you not only strengthen your relationship bonds, you create a life where people want to give to you as much as you give to them. You create a two-way street, giving sometimes and receiving at other times. God bless you, Ezar.

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  9. I admit I still have a hard time with this idea of giving and receiving so freely and openly. It will be a lifetime learning process for me. Thomas Merton understood how challenging this is when he said, “it takes more courage than we imagine to be perfectly simple with other men.” But at least I see more clearly now what that ultimate ideal I’m aiming for looks like. A true generous spirit is one that’s willing to give herself over completely to another person. It’s a willingness to share all of herself, especially her weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and flaws. It’s not about giving from a place of power and strength, but sharing our wholeness and humanity (flaws and all) and openly accepting whatever comes back. This, I think, is the real vision behind the lessons the Ezar gave us on generosity.

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  10. The act of giving helps to think of others. When we think of others and put them ahead of ourselves, we reduce our thoughts about ourselves and thereby our ego. This is especially so if the act is done without expectations. Similarly, when we accept gifts with genuine gratitude irrespective of whether we like it or not, we reduce thoughts about ourselves and thereby our ego. This is a spiritual benefit of giving and receiving.

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  11. Many people love to give. It’s a great feeling, and they do so with no expectation. But they often are awful at receiving, and really deprive others of that joy of giving. If given a gift, they say, “You shouldn’t have,” “It’s too much,” or the worst, “I feel bad that you got me this.” Ouch. This creates bad feelings during what should be a nice moment, and though their intent was to be selfless and polite, it is actually ungrateful. When a gift is given, “thank you” says that they appreciate the time, consideration, and effort that person has already put forth. Giving is virtuous, but so is accepting gifts gratefully.

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  12. I really appreciate the bracelet story. Beautiful and sad and pointed.

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  13. Ezar,as i receive this wonderful message of Christmas,i wish u in return a merry Christmas…let d Spirit of Christmas fill ur Home as we wait patiently for His 2nd coming in glory!

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  14. As old as i am,i become like a child to celebrate Him who is d Reason for d Season!Why is the wrong misconception dat Christmas celebration is only for children?Who doesn’t celebrate His birthday?I celebrate Him with a difference….looking unto Him with a heart of appreciation nd gratitude.Let ALL(both young nd old)celebrate Him.Halleluyah!

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  15. I am a giver,but many times i get discouraged b/c those dat receive my gifts end up stabbing my back…perhaps a coincidence? Merry Christmas house mates…lol.

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  16. When a gift is quantified nd qualified by d receiver,u kill d spirit behind the gift.A gift is a material expression of love frm d giver to the receiver..for God so loved d world dat He gave!Stop checking d quality or quantity.Receive with an attitude of love nd appreciation.

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  17. As we celebrate His 1st Coming,lets be prepared nd ready for His 2nd coming,for He comes again like a thief in d night.Happy Christmas Ezar.

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  18. Nice piece for d season…i like.Merry Christmas.

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  19. Poor child who had her gift rejected!But dats how many reject God’s wonderful nd unspeakable gift to us in d person of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

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  20. For many dat do not give at Christmas but wait to receive,remember ur pastors nd family members.As u give to them,u are indirectly giving to our Lord Jesus.

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  21. When i give gifts as unto d Lord,i dont feel bad wen it is not appreciated.So dear brethren,wen u give gifts at this season,pray over it nd give as unto d Lord.

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  22. @Helen,u are just right.That is what i do,nd this has helped me to ignore very unpleasant nd negative response frm some of those dat ‘receive’my gift.Na wa for some people with attitude problem.

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  23. I thank God for the givers.It is a strange culture for some Christians.Rather than give,they wait to receive…Aka-gum hahahaha!

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  24. Many do not know d essence/spirit of Christmas….they only know d merry-making(eat,drink nd party).We look beyond merriment to see d Gift given to be received,nd do likewise.Dumdum,merry Christmas!

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  25. Freely you have received from above,u freely give.That is d beauty of Christmas.Since d season began,i hv not stopped giving…nd i enjoy doing it even with my limited cash in a cashless society filled with d unemployed.The joy of d Lord is my strenghtooooo!

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  26. Ezar,tanx for d post.My family background knew only d merriment of Christmas nd not d giving spirit of Christmas.B/c we dont give,we find it even strange to receive.Tanx for d enlightenment.I’ll teach my family how to give at Christmas by giving…how about that?

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