by Susan K. Stewart

gift_is_size_importantEach year, at this time, we lament the commercialism of the Holy Season. But what do most of us (and I mean us, including myself) do about it? We go ahead and purchase to our limit with little caveats that make us feel good.

You know what I mean: buying from local hometown businesses rather big box stores, buying supplies and making gifts, buying within our stated budget. While we are doing the buying, we drop a few coins in the red bucket outside of the store, and maybe buy something for a child from the Christmas tree at the front of said store.

Please don’t think I’m against giving. I enjoy giving. But I don’t enjoy feeling obligated to give, or feeling that only a certain kind of gift is acceptable. I want to be the cheerful giver that Paul talks about. The key to being a cheerful giver is being a giver from the heart.

How often do we give, whether a gift for a special event, a gift to a favorite organization, or a gift to our church, out of our abundance? Out of our left-overs? Our left over money?Our left over things? Our left over time?

Jesus tells of the gift of the widow. The rich walked in and dropped their “left-overs” inlarge and small coins the offering. The widow gave a “mite,” an amount so small it can’t be counted in today’s money. Jesus said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV)

I think the rich were proud givers, while the widow was a cheerful giver.

No matter what you give, or what you don’t give, this Christmas season, be sure it is from your heart. Give to whom you wish, what you wish without compulsion. Enjoy the act of giving.

Copyright 2010. Used by permission of author. Originally published at Practical Inspirations.

Susan and her husband Bob began homeschooling their three children in 1981, graduating all three from high school at home. Susan speaks and writes on homeschooling for CHEA as well as for other organizations and publications. Susan is also the author of Science in the Kitchen: Fearless Science at Home for All Ages and Preschool: At What Cost?. She currently serves as CHEA’s Communication Adviser and CHEA’s Prayer Partner Chair. You may contact Susan at [email protected].