Thursday, December 26, 2013

He Comes to Make His Blessings Flow

Today is Boxing Day.  No, we're not British (although some of my children have taken to saying "Happy Christmas" over the past several years in what I believe is a nod to the beloved Harry Potter books they enjoyed so much) and we don't "celebrate" the holiday of Boxing Day in any sort of "official" way.

What is Boxing Day, anyway?!

From  Relax, Hallmark conspiracy theorists. Boxing Day isn’t some prank to confuse America—it’s a real holiday! Here’s how the world celebrates.
Boxing Day is observed every year on December 26. Before it took on its feistier name, the holiday was known as St. Stephen's Day.
Many historians think the holiday’s name is derived from the church practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing money to the poor.
Historically, British employers followed the church’s lead by sliding workers and servants gifts or cash on December 26. Merchants tossed servants a few coins, too, for bringing in a household's business.
Why give Christmas gifts the day after Christmas? Because the servants spent Christmas and Christmas Eve scrambling to pull off big holiday dinners for their masters.
Ireland sometimes refers to December 26 as Wren Day, a nod to an old tradition in which poor children would kill a wren, then sell the feathers to neighbors for good luck. In today’s celebrations, the wren is fake.
Despite the name, British observances of Boxing Day involve no fisticuffs. For patricians, however, another sport rules the day: fox hunting.
In other countries, Boxing Day celebrations are more literal. Many former British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean celebrate the holiday with prizefighting events.
Like most Western holidays, Boxing Day has become pretty commercialized. With big sales and bigger crowds, Boxing Day is the British answer to Black Friday.

Note: This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine.  Read the full text here.

Though we don't commemorate Boxing Day, tradition around here has grown to include a yearly giving of donations that serve others in lieu of gifts from us parents to our children.  They opted several years ago, after looking through several Samaritan's Purse and World Vision catalogs, to forgo their own receipt of gifts from us, and to have us instead give life-sustaining, life-enhancing gifts of chickens or goats or sewing machines and the like... Gifts that provide a means for poverty-stricken families to find a way to feed themselves, or to provide a trade for making products that can be sold or traded to provide for their families.

How appropriate that this Second Day of Christmas, when each child sits down and declares what he would like to provide using his $100 allotment, should be the day of the "church practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing money to the poor."

We are blessed with so much--and our offering is so small in light of the enormous needs around the world--but each year we seek to relinquish a little of our own self-focused wanting and buying and spending and giving, and hope to make a difference in some small way in someone else's life, in the name of the One who gave His life that others might live.

As we give practical, life-giving gifts halfway around the world in His name, may "His blessings flow far as the curse is found"!

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