Hope is a hot topic of conversation around this time of year. For many, it’s lacking. For some this time of year brings about sad memories—losing a loved one; dealing with sickness or lack of employment; not having the comforts of life like heat, clothing, and food; or just feeling depressed from stress or other downers that life throws at us.

This weekend at church the pastor mentioned a quote from Christopher Reeves (the Superman actor who became paralyzed as a result of an accident). He said, “When you choose hope, anything is possible.” Wow, that really struck me hard. The word “choose” it what really stood out. It’s like faith. For me, when I chose to accept Christ’s gift, I was given hope and with that everything that really mattered. Don’t get me wrong—I get upset and stressed and down over lots of things with constant regularity. But when things get bleak I know that I’ve got the support and love of Jesus.

This season is full of gift giving (which I love), decorating, and celebrating (which I also love). It’s also full of people trying to satisfy needs and wants. We can get inundated with presents and they can provide some fun in our lives. But we will always be left wanting more. It’s in our nature. Only the gift that Jesus gave us can quench my thirst. I still want the iTunes gift cards but I know that the most joyous songs come from the heart and from Him.

Please excuse my pretense of preaching. I’m not trying to sell you on anything. I just know the joy and comfort I get when I think of how absolutely stunningly beautiful the birth of Christ was and is. He came quietly, humbly, with no demands on us. He came from love and to give love. He had his family and some admirers around him—both at his birth and his death.

Family and friends are gifts to me. I have been blessed with the best of both. To those of you who are struggling with current challenges or memories of loss, I send you my love and wishes that you will—even in the midst of tears—find and hold on to hope.

I am blessed with lots of things beyond friends and family. I am also saddened by so many around the world and right at home who are in serious need. It’s funny that we have these white elephant parties—this need to give someone else our crap because we don’t want or need it. So maybe instead of getting someone (or receiving something from someone that is) “crap,” we could instead give a gift in someone’s name to another who is in desperate need. Some of the charities below could use our spirit of generosity this holiday season.

Heifer International (I’ve always wanted to give someone a cow—awesome.)

Aone: eight (This is a catalog of sorts where you can buy essentials for people living all over the world—including Haiti where the needs of so many are still critical)

Share Our Strength (Nothing worse than a hungry child. No excuse for any in the U.S. to be hungry.)

Do you have a favorite charity—an organization, a family in need, anything? Please share it here.

And if you are curious, looking for some hope, don’t know where to start but are interested in learning, or just plain ready to get right with God, there are numerous services being held around the country—I’m sure right in your neighborhood. Don’t worry, we don’t make you do things you don’t want to do, there’s no animal sacrifices (well Turkey at home but that’s another matter), and lots of love. Join me if you want at Fairfax Community Church on December 24th.

God Bless and Merry Christmas.