In a twinkle of an eye, and faster than Santa’s sleigh’s departure off my rooftop, Christmas Day will soon be here! December 25 is fast approaching and will be here even before we can recite all the names of Santa’s reindeer. Christmas brings an enchantment that even Disney with all its “Magic” cannot hold a candle to. The candlelight of the Christmas season brightens this world darkened by sin. The fire of  God's love bursts forth showing the entire world His love in action. This love once ignited is passed on in a contagious transforming way that seems miraculous. Most of us want Christmas time to last forever, at least in our hearts.

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The older I get the more I like to remember “when…,” and not just at Christmas, but all year. I like to recount past events out loud with family or friends, or just contemplate those days in my mind. Life has no rewind button, so we must learn to enjoy the present moment. How about you? Are you a moment “recollecter” too?

Moms why not start a new tradition this year, a Christmas memory box or a Christmas journal. First buy a brand-new journal, or a pretty box and some index cards, and then label the box or journal “Christmas Moments to Remember.” On New Year’s, gather as a family and write down your favorite part of that Christmas. Let every family member contribute. What a treasure it will be to look back each year and read together what past Christmas memories have been special to all. This collection of “Christmas Moments to Remember” could be passed down from generation to generation.

My favorite Christmas memories are those that come wrapped with a life lesson inside. Those are gifts that keep on giving. Here is a collectible memory from a Christmas season from the past. The Christmas season was in full swing. My husband and I were enjoying our weekly date at our favorite restaurant. What to my wondering eyes should appear but a miniature advertisement placed in the center of the restaurant. It read, “Give, Receive, and Rejoice!” It was such a great Christmas slogan that I stored it in the part of my memory that does not have a “delete” button.

I love to give at Christmas and all thru the year. I think of myself as a cheerful giver. I even give extravagantly, at times. I have actually had people say to me, “Please don’t give me any more...” I am always baffled by their response. Why don’t they just say, “Thanks?” While once perplexed over this, I now conclude, they do not understand! Many years ago, I was freed from the bondage of “giving to get,” and moved into the grace of “giving to bless.” Giving freely and not expected anything in return sets you free. Until you have given only to  to bless you won’t understand the level of freedom experienced. My motto has become, “Be Good, Be Grateful and Be Generous!” Yes, I aim at being a cheerful giver, as well as a grateful receiver.

The Christmas season presents a perfect time to do a heart check. Are you a cheerful  giver? Are you a grateful receiver? Moms, are you trying to cultivate thankfulness and generosity in your children? What can you do as a family to practice being thankful and being generous? Make sure your list includes a few people who you will never meet, people who are often forgotten, and people who are serving others. Place policemen, firemen, teachers and clergy at the top of the list and be generous. Don't forget, good old St. Nick showed all of us the great example of giving in secret.

I prefer to buy gifts for the grateful of heart. Their gratefulness encourages me to give again. A grumpy receiver is always a challenge to buy for. I am often tempted to just write them a check or mail a gift card. After all don’t they say, “It is the thought that counts?” I know that giving to bless means expecting nothing in return, not even a thank you. Like St. Nicholas, I often choose to be invisible in word and in action. On the other hand, buying for those who truly appreciate the gift, no matter what, doubles my joy.

I not only learned a life lesson that year from the slogan, "Give, Receive, Rejoice!" but I also was able to see that the lesson lived out. I bought one of my favorite priests a Christmas gift. His reaction was the perfect example of a “cheerful and grateful receiver!” It was a cold December day, and I was shopping when an plaque caught my eye. I  knew in that moment that it would be the perfect gift for a favorite priest, Father Michael. If you knew him, you would agree. Even though I usually refrain from buying plaques, what it said was so appropriate. It said:




I thought to myself, that plaque describes Father Michael to a “T”! It is the perfect gift! I laughed to myself as I put it in my cart and raced to the checkout counter. I was almost late, to meet my husband for the annual staff Christmas luncheon. I had found my perfect gift, just in the nick of time.

As I walked into the church hall I was greeted by who else, but Father Michael. I gave him the present which he opened instantly. He then began to read the entire plaque out loud. Laughing, he remarked, “It is the perfect gift for my office.” The next day, less than 24 hours later, I received a thank-you note in the mail. A joyful receiver was he! Later, I could not help but think that it is just as important to be a cheerful giver as a cheerful receiver. Hopefully it is a lesson I will never forget.

So, this Christmas check your heart. Ask yourself: am I a “grateful or grumpy receiver?” Make it your aim to cultivate a heart full of gratitude and look for opportunities to bless others. Adopt the motto, “Give to bless and not to get.” Then if someone does bless you, for heaven's sake, just say, “Thanks!”



pres1 Copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan

Copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan