Ah, the joyous sounds of Christmas: Carols playing on the radio and in the mall. Horns honking as weary shoppers look for parking spaces. Salesclerks tersely telling you there won't be any in the size you need 'til next year and refusing to check stock. Children crying, either because they did or didn't get to see Santa Claus. Does this sound like some of your experiences at Christmas?

We've all heard the complaints about how ‘commercial' the season has become, but have we ever done anything about it? We usually just complain to ourselves when we are the ones who can't find a parking space or have to stand in long lines at the mall. Now I am certainly not advocating that we boycott all the stores and refuse to buy anything for Christmas gifts, but we can surely maintain a good attitude as we endure the hustle and bustle of the season.

I am a big procrastinator. (If you don't believe me, just ask Sharon which article is usually the last one written for this newsletter!) This has caused me to be out shopping on Christmas Eve many times over the years, so I have experienced the exasperation of the season. I have also worked in retail and had to deal with rude and frustrated shoppers. So let me make some suggestions for your holiday shopping based on my past experience.

First of all, be patient! Don't shove or push ahead of someone else. And don't insist that a salesclerk answer your questions when they are waiting on someone. When your purchase is rung up, offer the clerk a piece of gum or wrapped candy mint. (Christian bookstores have peppermints with scripture printed on the wrapper that is quite appropriate.) If you have to wait in line, hum some Christmas carols and smile and converse with others in the line. It helps the time pass more quickly.

When you head to your car, look around for someone who might be trying to find a parking space. Wave them down and let them know you are leaving so they can have your space. (Helping a young mother with 2 children get a parking space once gave me real enjoyment, as she smiled and thanked me.) Those people have their spirits lifted because they were given special attention.

Finally, when you go to the grocery store or local Wal-Mart, look around as you get out of your car and see if someone is just unloading their shopping cart. Offer to put the cart away or take it into the store with you for your shopping. (Just be sure they get their children out first!) This could be to your advantage since the carts are sometimes all gone during the holiday rush.

Now what does all this have to do with the birth of Christ? Quite simply, it's all about being Jesus to the people we come in contact with. If we don't share the love and joy of Christianity during the Christmas season, how can we share it the rest of the year? And by the way, these would be good things to practice throughout the year.

Have a joyous and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Email Roger
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