Tag Archives: Christmas

7 Ways to be a Better Santa Claus

So there is going to be a lot of gift giving during the Christmas season, right? Some will be doing so out of a sense of obligation, others out of love and connection. There are still others who just get caught up in the holiday spirit and shop till they drop. God bless their hearts.

Most of the time, we make a really lousy Santa Claus. Why do you think there are so many “Ugly Sweater Parties” at Christmas? The secret to being a better Santa? Well this is a blog about staying connected, so yes the answer is being connected. Take the time to know people and be a better Santa Claus. Here are 7 suggestions.

1. Get to know your neighbors better. They may not like fruitcake. Their house is already full of calorie laden gifts. Maybe they have a son in college that they miss very much. Stationery and stamps may be the best gift.

2. Get over the gift card. First of all, you’re paying taxes twice. You get taxed when you purchase the gift card and they get taxed when they buy something with it. If you must get a gift card, at least find out what their interests are and get one they’ll absolutely love!

3. Find the reasons they “don’t” do something. Have an aunt that used to bake all the time, but doesn’t anymore? Assumed she just got bored with it? Ask her way. Maybe it’s her arthritis, and mixing is difficult. Get a standing kitchen bowl mixer for her. You’ll be giving her two gifts in one, because she’ll also be getting back her love of baking.

4. Stop avoiding scrooge! Have someone that just isn’t into the Christmas spirit? Find out why. There could be a painful memory associated with the holiday season and each year they are reminded of a great loss or never ending battle. A gift that pays tribute to a lost loved one or a gift that says “I’m on your side,” could change everything this Christmas.

5. Give yourself. Time is one of the most precious gifts we have to give. Invite a friend or family member to spend time with you in a way that both of you would enjoy – a sports event, a concert, manicure, local community theater – and throw in a meal to make it even more meaningful.

6. Touch the saint’s heart. Is your family’s hippie driving you nuts about all the consumerism and commercialism at Christmas when people are going hungry? Pick a charity, pick a need and take them shopping for items for those in need. Not the shopping type? Visit http://www.adra.org and their really useful gift catalog. You can buy a goat for an impoverished family that will change their way of life, and you can have it done in the name of your friend.

7. Support and Encourage. Don’t know what to get that coworker for Christmas? Go to their kids’ school Christmas program and present a small gift to the child for a job well done. Grandma always works so hard to put on the great big family Christmas dinner, consider a personalized serving platter, “Grandma’s famous Christmas Dinner.” Give gifts that encourage people in what they love!

All these tips have one thing in common – taking the time to connect with people. The best way ever to be a better Santa!

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Focus Woman, Focus!

We hit a muskrat with our Toyota Camry. Estimates are it has done about $800 worth of damage. Not fun. Christmas, taking a youth group to a big event in Florida in January and still trying to get a son through his senior year of high school – now isn’t a good time to cough up some of that green stuff to fix the car.

And while we are at it, why do we always get stuck with used cars? How come we had to get a real winner, a Camry with a damage title, and the stupid key fobs won’t work unless we invest hundreds of dollars to replace the car’s computer system? I could go on and on, but God stopped me.

It was like He was waving His hands up and down and jumping for emphasis. “Focus Woman, Focus! Look at what you do have.”

When our family needed a second vehicle and there weren’t many affordable options, someone hooked us up with this Camry for a very competitive price. The mechanic we usually take our vehicles to gives my husband a ministerial discount. I could go on and on – and this time God probably won’t stop me. I’m much happier when I’m counting my blessings instead of focusing on a few trivial bumps in the road.

It’s really simple, but it’s sometimes very¬† hard. Choosing to count our blessings instead of dwelling on what’s going wrong at the moment isn’t the natural choice for us folks. But that’s okay, because I happen to know Someone in the supernatural business. Through God’s grace, He can transform my life and give me a character like Christ’s. The car will get taken care of eventually. Perhaps most important is taking my heart to God’s garage for a tune up.

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When Heinz 57 is a Good Thing

There was always one answer missing. No matter how hard I looked on those multiple choice forms, there was never a “Heinz 57” on the list. So I grew up filling out Iowa Tests of Basic Skills forms with resentment each year (as well as many other forms) with the plain old “white” or “Caucasian” because I don’t have enough of any one thing in me to be predominant. But then again, that’s a good thing. Like last night.

Last night was our church’s annual International Christmas Festival. We celebrate all of the cultures represented in our church as well as this special time of year. Folks are invited to dress in a way that reflects their heritage, if they so desire, and bring a food dish representative of their culture. Last year, Karl and the kids went as the Germans they are (I have a little in me) and I went as a Native American. Karl took Streusel Kuchen, and I took Native American Fry Bread. But because of our varied heritages, we were able to choose a different culture to represent at this year’s festival. Last night we went with the English-Welsh side of the family (Karl’s mother and who knows where it comes from in me).

We dressed in lady and knight costumes and served English scones with preserves and tea. Evidently English scones are hard to come by in East Texas. The leftovers were claimed, with quite a bit of demand, actually. Even the peach/apricot preserves were victims of kidnapping by the church media director. We also got to enjoy guacamole made by our Honduran friends and cassava cakes by our friends from the Philippines. What a night!

What culture will we represent next year? Well, since my DNA test came back 19% sub-Saharan African, it might be time to represent the soul side of me. This is what makes being a regular Heinz 57 of races and ethnicities so much fun. I want to proudly celebrate each and every part of my heritage. Why limit it to only one? Things have gotten better over the years on those dreaded forms demanding to know my race and ethnicity. They haven’t figured out “melting pot American” yet, so I click the best answer I can which is finally now available. “Prefer not to answer.” If I can’t claim every single part of my ethnicity then I’d rather not say anything at all.

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Happy Birthday

Holidays can be crazy. Nuff said. But imagine your birthday on top of Christmas!!

Every year, my father-in-law celebrates his birthday on Christmas Eve. Every year the theme is Christmas because the house is already decorated.

In 21 years of being a part of this family, I’ve never once heard him complain about all the last minute before Christmas stuff that ends up getting done on his birthday. I think I would complain a lot. I’m not as patient.

Happy Birthday to a man that teaches me so much!

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Decorations of Red

A twelve foot Christmas tree has found its way into our church. There is a gorgeous red bow on top with more swag on the tree made of the same material. I’m so glad God blessed other people with decorating abilities, because He chose to pass me by on that one.

It was great to see all of the folks come together tonight for the sole purpose of decorating, inside and out. We are not ashamed to say we celebrate Christmas and all it means to humanity. Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace, to men of good will.

Have you found your Christmas spirit yet? You know, that amazing phenomenon of giving up anything necessary to share good news with people who really need to hear it? Thinking more of others instead of ourselves. Expecting miracles and praying for them. Thanking God for giving up everything in order to live out the good news for us.

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Tuned for Miracles

I was recently riding in the car with my husband, after a marriage seminar we presented in Crowley, Texas, when he searched through the radio settings to find a station carrying “the game.” It was the Cowboys and they were sure to lose, but he wanted to listen anyway.

The reception started going bad, so I was going to take over and try to find a new station for him, mostly so he could keep his hands on the wheel and drive! But Karl was fast. He had traveled this route before and once he got closer to Tyler, Texas, he knew right where the station was that carried “the game.”

Christmas is like that. There is this expectancy in the air that something amazing is going to happen. People are more in tune for miracles at Christmas than any other time of the year. I suppose God is extra busy lavishing attention and instruction on people finally willing to listen.

Look around, you’ll see it. People usually too busy to care will actually slow down a little at Christmas time. They take the time to tune in to where God has been speaking and trying to get their attention for some time.

What should you do? Pray for miracles to happen! It’s amazing to see it happen all around you. Christmas is a time of amazing miracles.

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