Day 23: Better to Give Than to Receive

Erma Bombeck, an American author and humorist, once said, “There’s nothing sadder than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” I’m sure that when she said that, she was thinking of the joy and wonder of a child opening presents on Christmas morning. I experienced such a Christmas in 1991.

It was the year I wanted a dollhouse for my Barbies to live in. My sister and I usually got similar gifts (a new doll each year) and we would play to our hearts’ content for hours afterwards, but out dolls didn’t have a place to live.

We made do by tipping chairs over and putting blankets over them, fort/tent style, and used our imaginations. Maybe they were on a safari!

That year, I asked my parents for dollhouse. I could barely hold my excitement for Christmas.

Christmas Eve, when my father finally came in from working outside, we got to open our gifts. I will never forget the giant gift with my sister’s and my name on it. The package was twice my size!

When our turn came, we both ripped the wrapping off, creating more of a mess than anything. Underneath was a two story dollhouse. The main level consisted of the living room and the dine-in kitchen. There were counter tops, cupboards that actually opened, a mock sink, door frames, miniature light fixtures, carpet and tile. One wall in the living room had a fireplace on it…granted it was one of those mural stickers that you could get at Hobby Lobby, but it gave the room a warm glow.

There was a set of stairs in the living room leading up to the second level where there were two bedrooms, both contained two different types of carpet. The roof actually had shingles and there was even a chimney. All it needed was our doll furniture and a little life!

I couldn’t wait to play with it and neither could my sister.

I’m sure Erma Bombeck was thinking of such precious moments when she made her comment. The wonder and joy doesn’t have to stop when we grow up. I still get that when I give. I don’t expect anything in return. I’d rather see the smile on a kid’s face or hear a thank you from the young woman struggling to make ends meet.

The wonder and joy I experienced when I found that dollhouse under the tree was a self-centered joy of having my dream fulfilled. There is nothing wrong with that. However, part of maturing is growing out of our self-centeredness. As we mature, we learn to rejoice with those around us and share their joy.

There is even greater joy and wonder to be the one that brings joy to others. I can imagine that my parents were overflowing as they watched me with that dollhouse. It really “is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If we want more joy at Christmas, it’s amazingly simple. All we have to do is give more joy to others.

The late American newscaster Eric Sevareid seemed to understand our need to give to others. He said, “There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”

Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). The truth applies all year long, but maybe Sevareid is right. Maybe it is a good thing we have one day a year that encourages us to practice it. Maybe seeing it prove true in December will encourage us to put it into practice all year long.

May your Christmas and New Year be filled with joy!

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