Ever since his divorce several years back, my good friend Ron always complained to me about the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. He had his reasons, to be sure, but he began to sound like a broken record.
“It’s just not the same,” he would moan. “With my wife gone and my kids living far away, it’s always an agonizing time of year for me.”
Then Ron would typically cite the gluttony, commercialization, overspending, and other holiday sins as justification for his negative attitudes. You’ve probably met people who think like that.
“Let’s face it, Ron,” I often would tease him. “With your ‘humbug’ attitude, your parents should have named you Ebenezer!”
But recently he threw in a new line that really got me thinking. “I wish I could just press the fast forward button and wake up on January 2,” he told me. Although part of me sympathized with Ron on this, I spent some time praying we both would gain a new perspective.
Then suddenly it hit me: Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t just ordinary holidays. They represent two of the most important attributes of a happy, successful, and impactful life.
Let me explain…
If you would ask me the most important attitudes for people to cultivate, my answer would clearly be GRATITUDE and GENEROSITY. Yet most of my life I overlooked the fact that these are exactly the core principles behind Thanksgiving (gratitude) and Christmas (generosity).
Notice that gratitude and generosity are both “magnetic” traits. People in the secular world or New Age Movement call this “The Law of Attraction,” but it’s a profound Biblical principle too. Gratitude and generosity attract blessings and favor to our lives, both from God and from people.
In contrast, blessings and favor are repulsed by INGRATITUDE and STINGINESS. No wonder Scrooge didn’t have many friends until his epiphany.
It’s through gratitude (a heart of thankfulness) that we enter into the gates of the Lord’s presence (Psalm 100:4). And haven’t you noticed that people love to give things to a person who is truly grateful?
Likewise, generosity is one of the primary keys to a life of blessing and impact. Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT) beautifully points this out:
Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
- Do you want to prosper? Then set your heart on becoming more generous.
- Do you want to enter into a time of refreshing in your life? Then make it your aim to refresh others.
More importantly, do you want to become more like your Heavenly Father? Then one of the very best ways is to become more generous. You see, a central character trait of your Father in heaven is that He’s a GIVER. “God so loved the world” that He didn’t just think more positive thoughts toward us – He GAVE His Son (John 3:16).
If you truly see how incredibly loving and generous your Father is, you’ll want to be that way too. But if you view Him as stingy and miserly, you’ll end up behaving like Scrooge and having a miserable life to show for it.
So, what about Ron?
Armed with this new understanding of how Thanksgiving and Christmas mirror God’s two major character traits for a happy and holy life, I’ve been able to help Ron gain a new perspective too.
“Ron, you may not like every aspect of the holidays,” I’ve told him. “But what if you used Thanksgiving as a monumental opportunity to work on your GRATITUDE? And what if Christmas became your yearly reminder to live a life of GENEROSITY?”
Most likely, I’ll have to remind Ron again next year. But I’m confident that if he begins to practice gratitude and generosity, he will start attracting a great new life – and perhaps even a great new wife.
Even for someone who feels like Scrooge, miracles may happen. Gratitude and generosity can enable us to shake off the holiday humbugs.
P.S. If you’re feeling in a generous mood today, one idea is to click the “DONATE” button at www.JimBuchan.com. Your gift will be a tax-deductible donation to my nonprofit organization, Crosslink Ministries. Thank you!
Externally I am generous and thankful during the Christmas holidays. I am a cheerful giver (but I think I am throughout the year) and I am thankful for family and friends. I am thankful that Jesus was born. I am happy that other people are happy and celebrating over the holidays. However (and here is the big however) – on the inside I find Christmas very depressing. I live alone as a widow and it takes the grace of God not to feel lonely as I watch the Facebook posts of family gatherings. Outwardly I am smiling and putting on a happy face, but it is a very difficult time for people who are alone. For those who have lost someone that they love and are separated from the usual family gatherings around the tree, It sometimes takes the grace of God to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Sitting alone at a candlelight service, can be very difficult in spite of the fact that you know Jesus is with you. Many feel like Ron during Christmas, but have just learned how to keep it bottled up inside and smile on the outside. I agree that Ron had a stinky attitude, he just hadn’t mastered the necessary self control to keep it from showing on the outside. I decided to write this little reply because I know you like to hear from your readers. So just giving a look at what goes on in the heart of lonely people. Blessings and (yes, I’ll say it) Merry Christmas.