Dr. Bill Atwood

The true spirit of Christmas

Thursday the 13th of December is noteworthy because it represents the last twelve shopping days until Christmas.

The merchants will be selling right up until Christmas Eve so that you can get those last minute presents. They will also be open to help those folks who won’t even start their Christmas shopping until Dec. 24.

I’ve never understood waiting until then. Are they surprised that Christmas happens to occur on Dec. 25 or are they waiting to see who is inviting them for dinner and they buy for that family only?

The song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and the references to the twelve days of Christmas have nothing to do with the days before the 25th.

Church congregations such as the Roman Catholics or Anglican, as well as others, are honoring the season of Advent which is a time of preparation for the coming of the King who happened to have arrived in Bethlehem for his birth. Advent takes place for four weeks just prior to Christmas and ends at sundown on the 24th. That is when the twelve days of the Christmas season actually begin.

As you scurry about with your final shopping and planning for parties, dinners, get-togethers, and gift exchanges, I want to pass along some ideas for you to consider for your gifting in the true sense of what has become known as the “Spirit of Christmas.”

While most of us will be dining at the Christmas dinner on foods that may include turkey, ham, goose, or prime rib with all the trimmings and dessert, there will be some in this very community who will be lucky to have a can of soup or beans.

When you see the bell ringers from Manna House at Raley’s or Von’s or Grocery Outlet, be sure to toss in a few dollars.

Manna House distributes the food fairly and evenly to the deserving local families and individuals. Write a check to the local Children’s Museum because it serves all the kids in this area as well as tourist kids.

Jim Elliot and his fine crew run a first-rate place and they sure could use a gift of cash in their stocking.

The local schools can always use financial assistance beyond what they get from the State of California. Fields trips, playground equipment, computer coding devices, library books are all needed items. You can play Santa when you provide those items.

Buy somebody’s meal at a restaurant and walk away. It might be an older couple, a young couple, a firefighter, a CHP officer or sheriff’s deputy. Trust me, the look on the faces when people are told the tab has been covered and they look around and don’t know the giver really is a treasure.

Over-tip your regular waiters and waitresses. It helps them during the tight winter months and you can think of it as a Christmas bonus.

Offer financial support to Scouts, Little League, and other non-profits in our area.

Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century, was a man from a wealthy family who spent many years giving small pieces of gold to deserving poor. He simply would leave those coins where they would be found and his gift helped that family.

His birthday was in December and his gifting got tied to the holiday of Christmas and St. Nicholas became Santa Claus. His simple acts of kindness are still inspiring millions of gifts each year for 16 centuries to date.

As we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift ever given to the world, let’s prepare ourselves by doing acts of gift-giving kindness to strangers.