For many of us, Christmas began last week with the annual Black Friday shopping spree and continued into this week with “Cyber Monday,” one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.
The early Christmas season is a time of huge profits for retailers and huge savings for consumers. The intensity of all this commercialism can cause some over-zealous shoppers to occasionally stampede a store entrance or get into fistfights in the toy aisles!
But beneath the hype, a gentler, less materialistic spirit still permeates the season – a tradition of giving that began about 1,700 years ago with a Christian bishop named Nikolaos of Myra (aka Saint Nicholas, aka Santa Claus).
During the first days of December, Christians around the world have traditionally honored Nikolaos for his charitable deeds. According to legend, Nikolaos gave away his entire inheritance to help the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He placed coins in the shoes of poor children, and once even provided dowries of gold to three sisters who wished to find husbands so they wouldn’t be sold into slavery.
This Christmas season, instead of stressing out over our shopping lists, we should remember Nikolaos’ simple message of generosity and self-denial. Cross International is promoting that message through our annual “Gifts that Glorify” Christmas catalog. Click here to give a Christmas blessing to a poor family overseas in honor of a family or friend, or to let others know that you would like a special gift that benefits the poor. Your kindness will shine brighter than all the Christmas tree lights and tinsel that money can buy!