When do you begin your Christmas shopping? Do you enjoy finding special gifts for those on your gift list? Do you dread the task? Is gift-giving just one more thing on your stressful holiday to-do list?
It brings me great joy to find or create the perfect gift for each individual. I keep my eyes open all year and make my purchases as I find the treasure. (Granted this works better for the adults on your list than the children whose whims change with the current trends.) Still, it can be an ongoing fun adventure. At the end of the year, you have much less shopping to do and the budget doesn’t take a monster hit all at once.
A group of ladies meets at the Coffee Cottage in my devotional books. They share a story for each of the fruits and spices of the Bible that I have shared in that volume of Cinnamah-Brosia’s Inspirational Collection. They are in a quandary about their gift exchange. Maybe you relate. And maybe what they’ve done will inspire your gift-giving. (Scroll down to read the story excerpted from the book.)
Yes, Cinnamah-Brosia is a made-up character who owns the Coffee Cottage. I’m sharing one of their stories from the Christmas-themed devotional The Essence of Joy – Filling Your Heart with the Aromas of Jesus’ Nativity.
Familiar scents and tastes of the season fill its pages. Nine of them, in fact. And you’ll also find a devotional about the spice or fruit as found in the Bible. You’ll meet a woman of the Bible who exemplifies that particular fruit. Each chapter concludes with Fun Facts and activities to incorporate the fruit or spice into your life.
Cinnamah-Brosia and Friends Share About Mint
The Joy of Giving*
Diffusing Today: Peppermint, of course
Aromatic Influence: creates an atmosphere that may be calming yet stimulating and uplifting
Daily Delight: Mint Chocolate Brownies
Musically: Little Drummer Boy, words & music by Katherine Kennicott Davis, 1941
Verse of the Day:
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity,
for God loves a cheerful giver. ~~2 Corinthians 9:7 (HCSB)
Just a few weeks ago our Tuesday night group discussed our traditional Christmas party. “We always draw names. We’ll do that again this year, right?” Melanie asked. While she totally got into the whole gift-giving tradition, some of the others in the group were groaning over the annual obligatory exchange of stuff. Haley quietly surfed around on her phone. Her lack of consideration aside, she found and shared this quote from E. B. White:
“To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.” (1)
~~The Distant Music of the Hounds, 1954
We all knew the Christmas story and acknowledged it made sense to put less focus on the material. Often the gifts spoke highly of another item checked off our shopping list, rather than a gift from our heart. Carol suggested creativity. We encouraged a $20 limit. Haley remained visibly uncomfortable. We drew names anyway and planned the party.
Tonight we were gathered in Wisdom Corner. The area glowed with the lights and festive sparkles of Kaitlyn’s gift for turning an ordinary corner into a festive wonderland. We piled many versions of heavenly chocolate delights and sugary confections on the upcycled pomegranate-bordered coffee table. Shimmery red liquid cascaded from the punch fountain. The coffee urn wafted its aroma.
Mandy’s beautiful voice led us in worship to the King whose birthday gave us reason to celebrate. Jane shared a moving devotion about using the gifts God has given us. “It’s easy to discard them or be ungrateful for the gifts He has personally chosen for you and me. Finding joy in these gifts prompts us to serve in authenticity and love. Your actions please Your Lord.”
We love because He first loved us. ~~1 John 4:19 (HCSB)
She prayed, “Oh, LORD, help us find joy in the gifts you have chosen for each of us. We also choose joy in the gifts we bring for our friends and those they chose for us. Let us leave here deeper in love with You and each other. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Beginning with Crystal, we revealed whose name we held and presented our gifts. Jennifer loved adding another warm scarf to her collection and hugged Crystal in thanks. The green and white striped package boasted a blown glass Christmas tree ornament tied to the top. Melanie handed it with great care to Carol. Inside she discovered three more glass jewels to add to her special glass-themed tree. Another big hug, and around the circle we went. Haley and I were the only ones left. It thrilled me when I drew her name. Now I realized she had mine, too.
The red and white polka-dot box pulled me in. I quickly recognized it as a work of art. Not to disturb the beauty of the wrapping, the lid lifted separately. Tears ran from my eyes as I opened it. More red and white polka-dot paper – so reminiscent of the dishes at Miss Dot’s café – peered up at me. Each one held a photo memory of Miss Dot’s Café and all the people who made it special over the years. What a perfect gift!
Curiosity won. I inquired, “Where did you find all these photos?” Haley pointed to Carol.
“Mom had taken these over all the years she and Miss Dot were friends. I knew Haley desired so much to bring you an extra-special gift – one that shared her heart. You and Jeremy mean so much to Haley and Dan. Mom agreed the photos belonged here at The Coffee Cottage. Haley did all the work to make them come to life with her special touches, captions, and more.” It was ‘that one gift’ that made everyone wish they had been so creative.
What a tough act to follow! We still use what remains of the polka-dot dishes, and Haley absolutely loves them. Hidden in the white oval basket overflowing with a stash of Haley’s favorite wild red raspberry tea, rested two of the polka-dot cups. The glittery gold bow reminded me of how much I treasure our friendship. Haley squealed with delight. I jotted a mental note to thank Jeremy for the awesome idea.
The photo box remains at The Cottage for everyone to enjoy. As the party wrapped, we all had a heart full of the love of the Baby swaddled in cloth lying in the manger over 2000 years ago. We always leave a seat for Jesus when we meet. Tonight was no exception. We finished with a chorus of the traditional birthday song in His honor.
With our Merry Christmas in July sale (we’re celebrating July 25th through August 1st), you have an opportunity to grab a copy for yourself to prepare for the Christmas season, or as a gift for a special friend who loves the season as you do.
Offer available 7/25/22-8/1/22
*Devotion (The Joy of Giving) and Book (The Essence of Joy) – Copyright 2017, Lynn U. Watson
Blogpost Copyright 2022, Lynn U. Watson
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.