In the past we have often given someone a personalised present at Christmas or we have got personalised tree decorations for our kids
BUT this year
we personalised it quite a bit.
To start with it was our grandson Matthew's first Christmas and although he didn't know what was going on ( not even 8 weeks old by Christmas) we were all thinking about him and we started off by receiving gifts from others mentioning
"Baby's First Christmas"
Then we were at it ourselves because I bought a star tree decoration handmade about Matthew for our tree and then got one identical for Daniel & Suzie's tree.
But Fred was the one who thought of the idea that included everyone.
Now I'm the one who loves mugs and I always find myself glancing over the array of mugs in any place I see them just in case I will see a nice one (should be a bargain of course) or see one that makes me think of someone in particular and I know it will be a nice gift for them.
But Fred was the one who had the idea about the personalized mugs!
So he designed them for each of the family
The mugs for the proud grandparents.
The mugs for the proud aunt and uncle.
The mugs for the proud parents.
Then a mug for each of my 4 Black Boys.
And that is how we personalised Christmas this year.
So often we go through Christmas time in a blur of shopping, cooking, giving gifts, visiting and eating together but do we make sure that the time is really personalised?
We can personalise Christmas time in two ways and neither of them has anything to do with our names on mugs or anywhere else.
We can personalise it by putting our mark on Christmas.
Yes we need time to shop for gifts and food, cook for the family and friends, give and receive gifts, visit and have meals together but we can also make time to engage with others on a good one to one basis and not just the hurried "Merry Christmas" and "hug".
We can think about little things that will make the time a happier memory for others or a time when they know someone cared enough to talk and listen to them and share a laugh or two.
I can think of a great example that happens each year in the Coffee Shop that our son Daniel manages in Belfast. On Christmas Day anyone and everyone who may be on their own over Christmas are invited to come to Common Grounds and share in a Freshly Cooked full Christmas Dinner.
Volunteers flock to help and others are eager to donate food or money to provide a special meal and afternoon for anyone who drops in.
This year over 110 people were served and not only they, but also the volunteers were blessed in their time together.
We can personalise it by putting Christ's mark on Christmas.
Yes again we need to do all the practical things and a lot of what is involved now at Christmas time is centred around things rather than the person who is the reason we celebrate Christmas.
We need to make Jesus the Centre of Christmas and the Reason for Christmas.
One thing I insist on each year is that the Christmas cards we send out will always be focusing on Jesus and not referring to Christmas as a season.
Here are a few of my favourites
(you can click on the pictures to see some stories that go with the cards)
And one we sent the kids in our Sunday School - deliberately picked to remind the children of the puppet show we had in church that year on the nativity and the fun time they had with the camel puppet.
Even this year when we sent out fewer cards and then sent an email greeting to link to a family letter on this blog we still wanted to express our thankfulness to God for sending the Saviour of the world and chose this picture for our Christmas greeting, keeping Christ at the centre.
We often hear things like:
“if you had been the only person on earth Jesus would have still died for you”
But we are not the only ones so we have a responsibility to put Christ's mark on each Christmas we celebrate here on earth to share Jesus with others and not remove Him from it.
I generally like to buy my Christmas Cards really early (as in the January sales!) so I am looking again now for a card with a fully Jesus centred theme to make sure I personalize Christmas for Christ.