Have you overspent your Christmas budget this year? One survey found 46% of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford during the holidays (up from 24% in 2014).
We need gift ideas that won’t break the bank. Most people really like affordable homemade gifts crafted with love and certificates for personal service
One tip: If you offer personal service include an expiration date. My husband recently found a long-lost certificate presented in 1993 by our 12-year old son. It promised four hours help straightening the basement workshop.
The absence of an expiration date on the gift means our married son raising three boys 520 miles away remains technically obligated to help in our basement. My husband showed him the never-redeemed certificate and jokingly forgave the debt.
We laughed at my husband’s joke but forgiveness is no laughing matter. It’s a somber, holy duty that honors the real meaning of Christmas.
Forgiving Changes Lives
Mary (not her real name) forgave two people one Christmas. She came to counseling depressed and lonely. Her only son worked overseas. She felt distant from her husband and lived estranged from her sister because of a property dispute that occurred when their parents died four years earlier.
Things did not improve while Mary waited for her husband and sister to change. We devised a plan to move things forward. She agreed to forgive her hurts and seek reconciliation. Mary’s plan worked and she enjoyed Christmas that year.
Step one involved arranging a night out with her husband so the couple could talk about their problems without distractions. Mary forgave his emotional neglect and asked forgiveness for her angry attitude. Her husband wanted a better marriage and welcomed her outreach. They began couples counseling in the new year.
Next Mary had a frank conversation with her sister over lunch at a local restaurant. Her sister had wanted to apologize for treating Mary unfairly in the past but feared rekindling Mary’s anger. The sisters exchanged forgiveness and celebrated Christmas together as they had before.
Could you brighten Christmas by forgiving someone this year? A neighbor or coworker? A family member, yourself or even someone no longer living? ‘Tis the season! Consider giving forgiveness as a cost-free yet priceless gift this year.
Don’t wait for others to get their act together. Our sin hurt God but He didn’t wait for us to change. He initiated reconciliation by sending Jesus.
Full forgiveness can take time but the process begins when you decide to forgive. Then simply renew the decision every time you start to rehearse the hurt again. Your pain will eventually become a distant memory.
If death or other circumstances preclude contact forgive anyway – as a Christmas gift to yourself! Write the offender a letter describing your injury and hurt. Offer forgiveness then burn the letter (or keep it as a reminder of your decision). It will set your spirit free.
Don’t fear reaching out. Most people secretly want peace but don’t know how to make it happen. This step-by-step guide can help:
A 10-Step Guide for Extending Forgiveness
- Admit that anger and grudges bring pain, illness and dishonor God.
- Decide to take healing action (vs. waiting for others to change)
- Ask God’s help in the process.
- Admit your own mistakes and need for forgiveness.
- Plan out what you want to say using “I” statements that do not accuse.
- Arrange a personal meeting if possible (otherwise send a concise note).
- Address the problem using the four-step method (available to subscribers)
- Expressly offer forgiveness.
- Expressly ask forgiveness.
- Make plans for moving forward
Merry Christmas and peace on Earth!