Christmas is meant to draw us into a fresh experience with peace that passes all understanding and nurture a contemplative reflection on the unassuming invasion of love, mercy, and joy in our world. Instead, it often manifests through extended holiday hours, fist fights over the latest doorbusters, calendars overrun with office parties, and holiday-themed TV shows that are constantly interrupted with commercials boasting the perfect gift that is within reach at a local, overcrowded shopping mall.
Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year, when Christmas cookies become an acceptable breakfast item with your morning coffee, and we all give gifts in celebration of abundance to people who, because of their abundance, make it really hard to find a gift for them. The riddle of what to give someone who has everything is a compounding problem.
If you’ve wondered how you will get into and through this holiday season, you are not alone. This has been a tough year full of catastrophic weather events, violence, genocide, division on a wide spectrum of human values, and tragedies that test our resolve to remain hopeful and patient with our neighbors. We are at a point in our history where we clearly see a narrative of devaluing people on the basis of many things that should have no bearing on the value of a human being. The tension in our world is staggering, and it makes the warm and celebratory traditions of Christmas feel disingenuous and detached from reality.
The Christmas story is all about peace entering into chaos and joy in the midst of dark, inhumane times. It is the story of grace entering into tyranny and faith enveloping fear. Christmas is for a such a time as this. Yet, it’s still a hard pill to swallow. Our lives feel characterized by C.S. Lewis’ world of Narnia in its coldest times, “Always winter, and never Christmas.” If this is true for you, ask for help. Be honest about the hardship of the season. Tell your story to another person. Share the burden with others. It is what we are meant to do.
This is a season of giving, so we hope that you will give yourself the gift of letting go of a burden. Give the gifts of a listening ear to someone else and attention to family and friends. In this moment, clichés like “the best gifts can’t fit in boxes” take on more weight and deeper meaning because it is not only true for love, joy, peace, faith, hope, kindness, and grace, but also for basic human rights like access to clean water.
If you’re still looking for a gift for the people in your life who seem to have everything, we hope that you will consider a gift that helps people in Africa celebrate Christmas with clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. If you have been a part of the Blood:Water story at any point in time, you know that our heart and passion for Africa extends to the people in the U.S. who may not need clean water, but instead need a story to step into to find meaning and purpose. And that is a good gift. It is a gift that Blood:Water has been giving for nearly 15 years.
Wishing you peace, joy, and purpose,
Dan Haseltine & Jars of Clay