One thing I love about the holidays is that people GIVE. My friend Sophia works at Starbucks and was telling me about how right before Thanksgiving, the “I want to pay for the guy behind me” epidemic began. It seems like people are usually just more joyful, caring and giving during the holidays.

You know, I wonder if there is a connection between the JOY part and the GIVING part. (And by “I wonder,” I really mean, “I KNOW there is a connection.”) I mean really, how can you not be joyful when you give someone something, and watch their face light up with excitement?! Or even if you can’t see their face, like in the Starbucks line, but can imagine their expression of awe when they realize they are getting a free order. I am convinced that the whole joy thing is directly related to the whole giving thing. Giving makes people happy.

This Christmas, I really wanted to focus on giving, and come up with some unique ways to give of my time since we are tight on funds. The funny thing is my family beat me to it. God brought some really unique opportunities for giving into my life, but I can’t take credit for any of them! My sister-in-law Emily, suggested that this Christmas instead of doing a Secret Santa-inspired exchange (or if you’re from Philly like me, its better known as a “Pollyanna“) between the Grand siblings, we pool our money together and buy gifts for a family who can’t afford gifts for their kids. LOVE the idea! And my in-laws signed Stuart and me up to wrap gifts as a part of an Angel Tree ministry at their church this coming weekend. LOVE this idea too! So God definitely answered my prayers for opportunities to give, but kept me humble in providing them through others instead of my own smarts. I am excited to be able to give, even a little bit, and experience the joy that accompanies giving.

I saw this quote on a blog I follow called The Tiny Twig, and I LOVE IT!! (You just can’t go wrong with Anne Frank.) Too many times as Americans, we hoard our money, afraid of going broke, of not having enough or just not having as much as someone else. But I know in my life, I’ve definitely experienced the blessings that come with giving. Not only the joy that it gives you, but also the blessings God brings you when you trust Him to provide what you “lose” by giving. In my experience, I’ve received MORE from the Lord in return than what I even gave in the first place.

This Christmas, let’s GIVE. Let’s give of our money and belongings, but also of our time. Let’s give not only to our family and friends, but also to strangers. The person behind us at Starbucks. The person behind us on the turnpike (if you don’t have an Easy Pass…). Kids whose parents can’t afford to give them presents. Parents who can’t afford to give their kids presents. The homeless man on the corner. Our elderly neighbor who doesn’t get many visitors. The estranged family member who would never admit it, but really just wants the love and acceptance of family. Anyone!

Let’s just GIVE.

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

Proverbs 22:9