My favorite line in the movie, “Forrest Gump,” is when Forrest says, “My mama always said life is a like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Those beautiful presents displayed under the tree in our homes at Christmas are like that box of chocolate; you never know what you are going to get! You wonder what could be inside. This will remain a mystery until the present is unwrapped. It is the same with the people you meet along the way. You must get to know them to discover what is inside.
In the movie, “A Christmas Carol,” Mr. Scrooge finds out what is on the inside of himself. What a Christmas surprise that was! What is the message that this timeless movie is really trying to tell us? Do you recall when Mr. Scrooge opens the door of his life to the Ghost of Christmas Past? Scrooge seems to have walked into a reality show, “This Is Your Life, Mr. Scrooge.” Scrooge is forced to face his character flaws with help from the Ghost of Christmas Past. This trip down memory lane seems to be the wake-up call needed to change his life for the better. Coming face to face with himself proves to be the best present Scrooge ever received. Seeing what was on the inside made Mr. Scrooge want to change on the outside.
Maybe this Advent was your own personal wake up call that will change you forever. We, like Scrooge, may be blinded to our faults that are seen clearly by others. These faults can be as plain as the nose on your face, but you cannot see your own nose, unless you pause and really look in the “mirror of your soul.” Others have a bird’s eye view at all times, and are taking notes; some are even “making a list and checking it twice.” In a way, people are like a mirror to us and we are, in the same way, a mirror to them. If we take the time to listen between the lines, they may be reflecting back what they see in us. Do they see your virtues or only your vices? This will tell as much about them as it does about us. Taking time to cultivate good character traits is a worthwhile activity. As your eyes are open to see your own faults, you become more tolerant of others. You are then willing to reach out in love rather than judge; just ask Mr. Scrooge.
Even though the inside counts most, everyone sees the outside first. If given the choice to choose a Christmas package under the tree, wouldn’t all choose the most beautifully wrapped, or the largest? Few would select the smallest package unless Santa whispered in their ear, “It came from Jared!” Few would choose the one Charlie Brown wrapped, because knowing his taste in Christmas trees makes him an unlikely candidate to be a quality shopper. Most people are blinded by the outside of the package, whether we are selecting a gift, a restaurant, a house, or a person to befriend.
Let’s choose 2018 as the year to make a new start to expand our heart. Or, do we need the Ghost of Christmas Past to ring our doorbell? Maybe on this new adventure we may discover that life really is the present. Perhaps, like Scrooge, we will learn to treasure that present. You see, Forest Gump’s mama’s words ring true not only about a box of chocolate and the presents under the tree but also in people. Remember, “You never know what you’re gonna get!” By taking the time to get to know others, each person we meet becomes a unique gift to enjoy, instead of a burden to bear. As we spend time enjoying their presence they also become a present. If you open the conversation with lots of questions and listen with your heart, some people may even be a surprise present!
Many people are hurting in this world we share. Some may not be dressed fancy, like the ones wrapped by Charlie Brown. Look past the wrappings! Other people may wear a frown because the trials of life have erased their smile. Some may be lonely and feel forgotten. Others might be in pain, lying in a hospital bed dying with no one to visit them. A few may not even have any presents to unwrap this Christmas Day. Be the hands of Christ, reaching out with His love to those you meet; from the smallest child to the oldest person. Jesus came at Christmas to show us His love. Share His love and bring joy to the world!
This Christmas invite someone over to your home that has no place to go for dinner. Sharing a meal could change their life. Drop some money into the Salvation Army bucket and hear the bells ringing out to those less fortunate. Give to care and care to give! How many times can you be a “present” this Christmas to those you meet? Who needs a welcoming smile? Who needs to hear an encouraging word? Who needs to receive a surprise package? Give big, love much, and make your presence count!
Your life is a present. Open up your life to those Christ leads you to each day. Share your life with all you meet at Christmas time and throughout the year. Outdo Scrooge! Don’t make the Ghost of Christmas Past have to wake you up. Live this year from your heart. Maybe you can bring joy to a Tiny Tim who will shout, “Merry Christmas, everyone!”
Copyright 2017 Ellen Mongan