joy….to give or to receive…

“I don’t think of all the misery,
but of the beauty that still remains.”

Anne Frank

(the work of a day / Julie Cook / 2017)

Thanksgiving afternoon, I was complaining to my daughter-n-law, dreading the notion
of having to begin the yearly arduous ritual, of “putting up” Christmas.
Some people will go into a feeding frenzy of all things consumerism and
I will go into light mode….

“Why do we do this?” I lamented.
“Why do we work our butts off, schlepping stuff up and down from basements
and attics every year….

Why do we move all this stuff in while moving all the other stuff out…
making way for holiday paraphernalia…
just to turn around to then put it all away again in just a couple of weeks???”

I lament so because I am the one who pretty much does it all….
all the lights,
all the decorating,
all the tree,
all the buying,
all the wrapping,
all the cooking,
all the cleaning etc…
because bless my husband’s heart,
he runs a retail business.

Suffice it to know that our lives are not our own right now…
nor will they be…not until about the middle of January.

Neither my husband or I truly “get” this Black Friday absurdity that consumes
this nation of ours.
He does nothing out of the ordinary for it and I don’t even acknowledge it.
Something about the wantoness of all the materialism consuming this country of ours
just oozes of emptiness.

Why do people stand in line for hours on end when they should actually be
home just enjoying Thanksgiving, family, time off, being outside, being inside, being someplace other than a strip mall, a big mall, etc…
oddly preferring to scoop up “stuff”????
Stuff no one really “needs” to survive.

Places like Syria just keep coming to mind when I see cars parked 4 deep,
wrapped around parking lots, just so folks can buy a flat screen TV or clothes,
a mixer or whatever it is they think they JUST have to have in order to survive Christmas…
along with all the other trivial things no one really needs in order to survive.
Like I say, I just don’t get it…..

So my daughter-n-law reminds me, “well you know he really does appreciate it”
He being my only child and son who was born a week before Christmas.
Christmas is his official holiday….but certainly not his dad’s.

The night our son was born, oh so many moons ago, in the wee hours of a December Monday morning…my poor husband had to leave us shortly after the birth so he could go
open the store and work all day…after having been up all night.
Missing his only child, his new son’s first day of living…
He is remorseful all these many years later, but it was how he fed us,
and for that we give thanks.
Yet how does one ever get back time?
They don’t.

In this family of ours, there is definitely some resentment concerning the consuming madness of holiday shopping…. on all sorts of levels…
and yet our son just adores Christmas…what are those odds?!


So as I was lamenting, my daughter-n-law tells me about a movie they recently went
to see —-a movie I would never ever consider watching.

They are only in their late 20’s—they watch things on television and at the movies
that I pretty much consider toxic—
of which I hope they too will soon realize as toxic…but until then,
I just pray….

My daughter-n-law relayed a line from the movie which actually resonated with me….

She said that in the movie the main character was grousing, much like I was, about
this whole Christmas business.
In walks the mother who deadpan responds….
“don’t you know, mothers don’t receive
joy, theirs is but to give joy”
(a paraphrase)

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

An understanding as to what exactly a lot of this is really all about.
It hit in certainly not a martyresque sort of understanding…but a deeper sense of understanding.

It is an understanding that none of this is about me….never has been.

It’s not about what “I” can get,
not about what I can buy,
not about what I can have….
nor is it about what I want….
but rather it’s about what I can give.

It’s about the ability to give verses the ability to get and receive….
And that giving has nothing to do with stuff—not of things gathered
from a store, or from on-line or from any place else for that matter.
Nothing tangible….

It has nothing to with with savvy shopping, marketing strategy, deals, door busters
or the madness that has become what we know as Christmas in the modern world.
A time that won’t even allow most schools to utter the word “Christmas”
but rather “winter break.”

What this season is about…isn’t about all this decorating,
or about all this consuming, or about all this buying and wrapping of “stuff”….

It’s not about the amassing or consuming….or materialism.
It’s not about the biggest gift, the best deals, the nicest trip to some
exotic wonderland.
Rather it’s about what we can offer and what we can give…

Because the original notion of this holiday Christmas business wasn’t about
Black Fridays and sale margins…it wasn’t about cyber Monday’s or on-line surfing…

It was about a gift…. but not a gift in the modern mindset of what constitutes
as a gift…

It was a single tiny gift that was actually given in order to save…
to save both you and I, as well as all of mankind, actually from ourselves….

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything
we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time..

2 Timothy 1:9

17 comments on “joy….to give or to receive…

  1. says:

    It definitely is a mother’s job to bring joy to her family. I love that thought. It was through love that God sent joy to the earth in that tiny babe in a manger. His mom was the first mother to bring pure joy into the world. Seems like we’re on the same page today.

  2. @vapor_sage says:

    All the effort is sometimes easier some years than others, what would the neighbors think? if we decided to forego the effort. If only one stops to reflect on the true meaning behind all of the hullabaloo. I savor the time spent with our loved ones and reflecting on what it must have been like in ancient times. Is it worth it? Of course, but we must complain about all the lonesome hard work and perhaps obtain some empathy lol Bless you friend and thank you for sharing your thoughts

    • Ever so often, I like to take one for the team 😎—-
      This is the first year without my dad and aunt— she was the one who had helped me last year with taking it all down and packing it away—so it was bittersweet yesterday bringing it all out again—- as I couldn’t call her asking about this or that which I couldn’t readily find…
      But those of us who actually “get it” — get what this time of year is really all about need to continually remind this ailing world that it isn’t Black Fridays, shopping, deals or dare I say it— football— but rather simply Jesus Christ— bottom line

  3. Wally Fry says:

    My dear mother, as clueless as she was about the actual needs of a child, always made sure Christmas was a big event for me. I am sure that was a struggle for her, too. I have had Christmas issues for years, even way back before I actually knew what the point was. I have always despised the constant pressure to “perform.” Now, I am gravitating towards not even participating to be honest. Theologically, I have issues with a lot of it. Now, in the sense of freedom and personal conscience, I don’t say much. Basically, do what ya’ll want, but don’t get too in my face about it. Sort of the same way I deal with Halloween and the Easter Bunny. Good job, though, Mom.

  4. hatrack4 says:

    I don’t get the Black Friday thing either. One year, my wife saw a great deal on DVD players. We never had one, at the time. She was pushed and shoved. Everyone was going to the electronics area. When the fights broke out, a store clerk whispered to my wife that the sale items were on pallets in the next aisle. By this time, the fist fights were near riot stage. My wife went to the next aisle, got the top box and made her way to the checkout. She was battered and bruised, but she had what she wanted. It lasted six months. When we went to find a replacement, the price was less for the new one than what she paid on Black Friday.

    I agree with you and Wally. We’ve screwed up all of the former religious holidays. In C. S. Lewis’ God in the Docks, one of the essays is the difference in Christmas and Xmas. It’s funny and sad at the same time.

  5. Dawn Marie says:

    I’m reminded of the very best definition I have ever learned for JOY. J=Jesus O=Others Y=Yourself. And that really sums up motherhood too, don’t you think? Blessed are we among women…. Hugs & Blessings for the wonderful post!!

    • that is a wonderful definition—very true—an in so often doing for others, I often need reminding that it is “joy” as in a service and service of example and not a time to complain or a “woe is me” business—I know plenty of women who have taken on the doormat role in it all—and that’s not it—I think it’s a matter of perspective and that perspective must involve the Godhead—with the Trinity in the center of the service to self and others…

  6. Lynda says:

    A great reminder to keep the real meaning of Christmas! I have always tended to be low-key regarding all the fuss and decorating and huge gift-giving at Christmas. Recently I made an agreement with friends that there will be no more gifts but we will each give a gift to charity instead. I don’t need any more items in my home when I’m at the age of de-cluttering but I do need to know that someone else is receiving something very much needed instead.

    BTW, your home looks very beautiful and beauty is something to be enjoyed! Your hard work certainly brings benefits to others.

    • I totally agree. Intact I tell my husband no gifts, we’ll just use what we would spend and go on a little trip somewhere—a long weekend away—
      And I too love the idea of giving to a charity in the name of who one would be “gifting”…
      excellent—that way, everyone wins 🙂

  7. This is such a powerful perspective, Julie! Thank you! I sometimes grow weary of the work as well, but your post renews my motivation to serve my family and others around me during the Christmas season. ❤

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