This week is Thanksgiving week, a time for seeing family, enjoying great food, counting our blessings, savoring annual traditions…and joining the mad rush for the latest, greatest Christmas presents.  With the explosion of MP3 players, portable satellite radios, widescreen hi-def televisions, next generation video game systems, and more – this shopping season promises to mean big bucks for Santa’s elves in the gizmo department.  And isn’t that what it’s really all about?:  Getting the latest cool stuff.  Impressing family and friends with your technosavvy.  Picking out just the right gift that will wow the socks off the recipient.  Boosting the national economy.  Feeling that sense of satisfaction at watching the kids rip open enough presents to entertain half the city for the next three years.

No, that’s not what it’s all about!!!

Oh, there’s nothing wrong with giving and receiving nice things for Christmas.  It’s a cool tradition that I happen to enjoy, and can be very meaningful – even healing.  But if that is the heart of your Christmas holiday season, you are missing out on the best things in life.  This week, I would like to share with you some suggestions for Christmas presents that will bring lasting joy and memories FAR beyond anything you can buy at Wal-Mart or Best Buy or E-bay.  I sincerely hope you will use my Christmas gift list and make this a holiday that really touches someone.  You never know, YOU may be the one most deeply changed by your efforts to give something real and meaningful this year.

  • Give the gift of yourself.  Say “no” to the crazy hectic pressures of the holiday rush, and say “yes” to those in your life who are desperate just to enjoy your presence.  Years from now, they may not remember what present you gave on a particular year, but they will remember whether or not you were there for them.
  • Make a present, instead of buying one.  There is so much love in a handmade present, even if it isn’t as impressive as something from the shelves of Gizmo City.  Whether it is a simple card, a photo album, some creation from your computer, a hand-painted sweatshirt, or any other personal creation, it says, “I care enough about you to invest my own time and creativity into a special gift for you.”
  • Maybe this Christmas season is the time to give that gift you know your family has really wanted from you for a long time- stop drinking, or smoking, or doing drugs, or hurting them, or gambling, or using pornography, or whatever unhealthy habit is making them miserable in a way you have been too selfish to admit.  If you don’t know how to quit, get help.  Feel free to check out the counseling resources on my site, email me at, or call me at 225-387-2287.
  • Perhaps your family has been blessed, so that you really don’t need anything more this Christmas.  Why not find a way to give to your community?  So many are in need of something you can offer – time, prayer, financial assistance, a listening ear, a strong back.  If you need some ideas for how your family can make a difference, check out some of the sites under my “Community Links” section.
  • What could be a better gift to anyone who loves you than to invite God to transform you into His image, through a daily walk with Jesus?!  If you are unsure how to proceed, send me an email, and I will be happy to offer you some guidance and resources to help you begin your amazing journey with the One who created you and loves you with all his heart.  You may also check out (although I think they are missing one piece – baptism), “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren,, or my church’s website-
  • Give someone a book, instead of a DVD or video game.  I really enjoy good movies, and  I used to enjoy video games (when they had two buttons or less on the controller – remember the Atari 2600?).  But they rarely have the potential to impact someone’s life like a good book.
  • Instead of the typical stocking stuffer knick-knackery, write a letter telling your child or family member how much they mean to you, and what you love about them.
  • Buy your loved one a three-day, or even a full week, stay at the Parish Hermitage (  This life-changing place of peace, rest, growth, and direction is beyond anything I can adequately describe.  My wife and I are so eager for our next stay – coming up in just a few short weeks!
  • Give yourself the gift of wellness/fitness.  Don’t wait for the laughable tradition of New Year’s Resolutions.  Start today on a path to a healthier you.  This may be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself AND the ones who love you.  You can find some helpful resources under my “Health/Wellness Links.”  I will be posting an article soon with some simple guidelines for improving your fitness and overall wellness.

May God bless you as you dare to dig deep and give some presents that may truly cost you more than a 56 inch plasma TV, but will bring more joy than a 2-hour unlimited shopping spree at Stuff-Mart.

With Hope – Roger

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