LED strands wind through plastic branches, grabbing the hooks of metallic globes. Cinnamon sticks plunk into tidy rows of cider mugs. Cookies huddle onto platters and store shelves brim over with packages. Christhannukwanzolidays strode into our community, complete with all the fixings.

The trimmings themselves have not cut Christ from Christmas. For millenia, celebrations kept His love burning in faithful hearts. Mine still leaps to the season’s pa-rum-pa-pum-pum and each whiff of balsam scents lifts my spirits a few inches off the floor. As I welcome this advent season, the joy remains bittersweet. Many who see the glimmer of Christmas stars will miss the light source. The ever-multiplying tragedy of lost souls intensifies the Christian’s need to shine the message of salvation. Dimming the tree lights seems unproductive, but how would Christ define a birthday celebration with all the fixings?

I wonder if the term “fixings” originated with a poor family’s need to supplement inadequate meat. The raw, unsavory, and broken face disposal if left in their hopeless state. Should the Lord’s choice to birth Himself among despised shepherds and homeless travelers surprise us? Jesus elevates our concept of holiday “fixings” to a new level. His love refines the raw, cleanses and redeems the unsavory, and heals the broken.

Some impoverished hearts glare among us, while others appear self-sufficient on the outside. Obvious and not, the numbers swell each year. We feel the chill, but wonder how to warm it away. The original story teaches the non-monetary cost of illuminating the darkness–lay yourself in a feeding trough. We can’t spend the need away, but Christ offered Himself as the first gift to model how we share Him by loving the emptiness away. The loneliness and suffering in our world cannot destroy those in eternal relationship with Jesus, and we can honor Him by demonstrating this through simple offerings such as daily gifts of friendliness and caring.

He’s invited us to an extravagant birthday celebration–eternal light, living water, sweet bread, and heart-crafted gifts. This Christmas, will you join me in sharing “fixings” with those who need hope?