It’s that time of year again! December is here and so are all the many festivities of the season. But, what is all the fuss about?
Why do we do whatever it is that we do every year? What is the real meaning of Christmas? Of course, as Christians, we are aware that Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as depicted in Luke 2:4-19.
However, Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas in many ways, and the reason behind the celebrations vary from person to person. Some see it as a religious holiday, while others may view Christmas as a cultural holiday.
The way we celebrate Christmas varies throughout families and friends everywhere. Some families may have a grab bag event while another may simply have a potluck dinner and exchange gifts. However, there is one tradition that is starting to catch on and become more popular around the holidays, Christmas Service Projects (CSPs).
As a society, we seem to be more willing to exhibit acts of kindness toward one another during the holiday season, which would explain the growing popularity of CSPs. CSPs are generally designed to give people an opportunity to volunteer to help those who are less fortunate during the holiday season. It is an opportunity for us to “pay it forward” while realizing that the person who is volunteering could very well be in the same situation as the person who is in need.
The concept of CSPs certainly has its perks for people of all ages and is considered a gift that keeps on giving. When children participate in acts of service as an expression of celebrating Christmas, it has a positive effect on their grades, attitudes, and even self-esteem. In fact, research shows that volunteering as a youth leads to a higher quality of life as an adult.
“Volunteering leads to better health… Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer,” according to a report by the Corporation for National & Community Service.
Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV) says, “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”
As Christians, we have a responsibility to freely give to others, paying close attention to our attitudes, and the way we give to others. A little further in Deuteronomy 16:17 (NIV) it reads, “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.”
Giving of yourself is a selfless act that is usually beneficial for the person receiving and rewarding for the person giving. Are you looking for CPS ideas for the holidays? Here are a few inexpensive ways to pay it forward in the coming weeks:
- Make Christmas cards and send them to troops overseas.
- Gather friends and family to volunteer at the local homeless shelter or food pantry for the holidays.
- Pick up a few items at the dollar store such as stocking stuffers. Pass them out to the homeless, public service workers, or even a neighbor.
- Design a card or special treat for the next Salvation Army bell ringer you encounter. Imagine how long they have been standing in the cold ringing a bell to try and raise money
- Shovel snow for a neighbor, the elderly, a friend or a stranger, without receiving any monetary donation for it.
- Help an elderly person hang Christmas decorations.
- Decorate a tree in a populated area for people to enjoy. Don’t forget to take down the decorations when the celebrations are complete.
- Have each person in your family commit to helping at least 4 people throughout the week. This will generate thought and conversation about serving others. Set aside some time to share your experiences and how you can carry these projects further through the entire year.
How will you be giving back this holiday season? Share some of your ideas below.