For as exciting and joyous as the holiday season is I must be honest and say I’m always saddened when this time of year comes around because it’s a reminder of the disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Money doesn’t buy anyone happiness, yet at the same time it’s hard to be happy when every day is a challenge to see how you will make ends meet.

Furthermore, there are also people who while they do have money they don’t have an abundance of family or friends. We’re used to talking about poverty in terms of money and possessions, but we forget there are many people living in social poverty, or spiritual poverty.

This is the time of year I think about the have-nots. I think of how many families out there can’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner, or the parents have to choose between paying the heating bill versus buying Christmas presents for their children. I think of the people who are spending this holiday season lonely, either because family doesn’t live in the area, or they’ve lost contact, or perhaps someone special in their lives has died. There are lots of people for whom this is not a time to celebrate, because it’s a reminder of how little they have in comparison to others.

The words of John the Baptist as recorded in Luke 3:11 come to mind: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none, and whoever has food must do likewise.” What will be on my mind this holiday season are these words from John the Baptist. I am grateful I have a good job that takes care of all my needs, and I have plenty of friends and family I can enjoy the good times with. I realize there are lots of people who don’t have this, and being a person of faith I need to take these words from John seriously.

For those who think of themselves as being blessed and are grateful for everything they have, I invite you to ask yourself: what are the ways you can give a gift this holiday season to someone in need?

Perhaps it could be something as simple as volunteering at the monthly Shared Table community meal or calling up an old friend that you know is lonely and inviting them to come join you at your house for coffee. Whatever you decide to do is your choice, and no gift is too small to make a difference. If everyone does a little bit every day, together we’d go a long way to making our world a better place.

What I appreciate of the Christian message is the reminder the gifts and blessings in my life are not here for me to horde for myself, but I’m called by God to share what I have. I will be thinking about what I can do to ease someone’s burden during this season, and I invite you to do the same as well.