Somehow not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give others
Is the joy that comes back to you.

-John Greenleaf Whittier


Christmas is synonymous with giving, and our model of perfect giving is Jesus. Someone who followed His example well was Mother Teresa. Working among the poor of Calcutta, she inspired millions with her selfless love.

“I see Jesus in every human being,” she said recently. “I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

Only someone who knows Christ’s love and has responded to it by passing it on could understand what Mother Teresa means.


Some years ago a popular song was the ballad, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.” There is an old Christmas story which pre-dates the song, but it tells of a similar homecoming.

In that tale, a young runaway boy is returning home on Christmas Eve by train. He has written ahead to tell his parents he wants to come back, but he isn’t sure that he will be welcomed. The train runs right by the boy’s home, so he has asked his father to tie a red cloth on the big elm at the back of the farm, to signal him.

When he is yet a few miles away, the runaway shares his anxiety with an older man sitting next to him. The man says he knows the teenager will be as welcome as another young man who ran off one time. Then he tells him Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. (See The Bible, Luke 15:11-32.)

Sure enough, when the train reached the old homestead, the father’s red signal was out. But instead of one banner, there were dozens of red flags waving in the wind, one from every conceivable branch, shouting the news to a runaway boy that all was forgiven at Christmas.


When disagreers and disagreements meet,
When longtime wounds are mended
And love moves hatred to retreat.
Lord, help us make this Christmas a time for forgiving and forgetting old grudges.


Christmas is more than a day at the end of the year,
More than a season of joy and good cheer.
Christmas is really God’s pattern for giving,
When He showed His unlimited love to all living.

For the holiday season awakens good cheer
And draws us closer to those we hold dear,
And we open our hearts and find it is good
To be kind to all men as we know that we should.

But as soon as the tinsel is stripped from the tree
The spirit of Christmas fades silently
Into the background of daily routine
And is lost in the whirl of life’s busy scene.

All unaware, we then miss and forego
The greatest blessings that mankind can know.
For if we kept Christmas love strong in our heart,
We’d keep giving and loving each day from the start.

We’d find the lost key to meaningful living,
That comes not from getting, but from unselfish giving.
And we’d know the great joy of peace upon Earth
Which was the real purpose of our Savior’s birth.

So let’s sing the glad song of the first Christmas night,
Then let’s live in His love and stay in His light.

- Adapted from Helen Steiner Rice

Christmas Is…, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International