by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
It came like a fresh blast of peppermint – not to my mouth, but to my soul.
On my way home from shopping, I stopped by my daughter’s place. There to my right, as I passed through her front gate, a small, wooden sign was staked into the grass. Obviously homemade and a bit faded, in simple, print letters, it said, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS.
I had just spent an hour or so in a large department store stocked with goods made in countries abroad, looking for a specific item with no success. In a colorful, large area full of beautiful stuff – row upon row – all to decorate for and commemorate Christmas, I had found only one item that embodied the true meaning of Christmas. I charged a little to my card, but I came away emotionally spent.
I’m not usually afflicted with ‘shopping fatigue’ as I was that day. But the last weeks of the year do bring me a kind of malaise that I’m told is fairly common. The vocabulary of the ‘season’ rankles my senses as merriment is dampened by the media’s sad line up, ‘happiness’ is so elusive, and joy is a rare find.
What I’ve come to realize is that along with others, I’m foundering in a sea of competing realities at the end of each year. Commercialism eggs me on to buy, buy, buy. Major, world religions offer their own celebrations. And, all glitter and gift wrap aside, I struggle to find wonderment at the amazing Gift our generous, Heavenly Father sent to prove his love for our world.
So, I’ve decided to spend some time each day until December twenty-fifth, making a birthday card for Jesus. I’m not sure what will come of this, but I think my first card will wish Jesus joy because he gifted me last evening with a Mongolian family. They opened their home and their hearts to me and my kin for an evening of good food, laughter and loving acceptance. After all, hospitality is a lovely gift, and it needs no wrappings.
How about it? What difference might it make for you and your family if you set aside some time and let each one write a ‘happy birthday’ card to Jesus before each day ended?
Here’s just one idea for how to make this work. Supply paper (say, 4” by 6”, or 5” by 7”), lined or unlined. Fold sheets in half to resemble greeting cards; give one to each person. On the outside, top half, let each family member print the words, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS and decorate it in any way he wishes. Open the sheet and write a message to Jesus inside. Sign and date. Keep a box or basket near the Christmas tree to collect the birthday cards. Read them aloud on Christmas Eve (or morning) during a time of family prayer and worship.
Consider making a small poster with some ‘starter’ phrases to help your writers along. You might suggest things like, I wonder if your mommy told you the story of your birth as you were growing up…, or, thank you, Jesus, for giving up so much so that I might enjoy…, or, thank you for a kindness I received today (describe this kindness); it reminded me of you…etc. Or, you could begin with a brief discussion about the kinds of things a person might put on a card to wish Jesus a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
Your kids will be blessed as you help them unwrap the joy of honoring Jesus in hearts and home this holy-day season. Together, you will make a difference in ways you can’t even imagine, sharing this joy with others who come into your lives, looking for Jesus without even realizing it.
“Peace on earth and goodwill to people…”from Luke2