“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 NLT
Some memories growing up made more lasting impressions than others. Christmas was one of them.
The joys of Christmas for me was looking forward to receiving a‘shopping allowance’. Dad gave us these allowances twice a year: at Christmas and Easter time.
Of course, we did get monetary gifts every now and again and got treats as well but Christmas and Easter were definite. With these allowances we were able to shop for whatever we wanted. A time when you got to spend your money the way you wanted to, how exciting!
Another fond memory (still around Christmas) was the fun of cooking a ton of food. As part of our culture growing up, Christmas day was more like an open house: guests showed up without invitation and when you don’t know how many guests to expect, you cook for as many as you are able to. The not so fun part was probably spending the day before Christmas and almost all-day Christmas in the kitchen, but the joy of entertaining and watching people connect in your home was reward enough. Similar to the trick or treat knock at your door for sweets on Halloween, we got the occasional neighbourhood children (who weren’t in the same position to have such an array of food at home) come by.
All these experiences make up my most beautiful memories. Standing out amongst them is the memory of the events leading up to the weeks before Christmas. My brother, along with a cousin or two,would go to the market driving the old truck and buy what at the time seemed to me as the entire market. As soon as I was old enough, I was allowed to join in what was to me an adventure. We would buy all sorts of groceries in large quantities, and when we got home would distribute them to three different organisations: the orphanage, the correction centre, and a home for people with disabilities. The sheer joy and gratitude you saw on their faces was always priceless. This is a family tradition that has gone on for as long as I can remember.
You do these things for so long and don’t realise that seeds are beingsown into you as an individual and a culture is being form. The dictionary definition of culture is:
“The ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society…”
“The attitudes and behaviour characteristics of a particular social group”
According to the Oxford dictionary, the origin of culture stems from a sense of cultivation of the soil. In the same way, culture is a culmination of the cultivation of the mind, faculties and/or manners. It can be likened to a seed put in the ground—you tend to it, water it and nurture until it produces fruit. Culture is not meant to be accidental but a deliberate, progressive walk which becomes a lifestyle. Just like its definition, it is ideas, customs and behaviours which over time make up a culture.
In this Christmas season and beyond, if you have received the greatest gift of all: the gift of the son of God, then you too must freely give. Learn to cultivate a culture of giving back in any capacity you can. Don’t just be a receiver, be a contributor. Let’s make an efforttowards building a godly culture around us.
Have a merry Christmas!