A little babe in a manger, a brilliant star, three wise men, shepherds tending their flocks, are just a few things people think about during this time of year. After all, that babe, Jesus Christ, is the reason for the season and the namesake of Christmas.

Traditions

We call on long-held traditions, such as Christmas Eve and Day church services, fellowship with loved ones, gift and card exchanges, little boys and girls whispering wishes to Santa, and the inevitable gifts from the Jolly Old Elf, festive decorations inside and outside the home, attending light-up and other community events, and the time-honored festival of unbuttoned pants after a large meal or two or three — you know who you are.

Perhaps the most impactful Christmastime activity is charitable giving, and Shelby County is good at taking care of neighbors.

Remember kindness

One of my favorite Christmas movies is “The Bishop’s Wife,” an old black and white film with Cary Grant as an angel trying to help a bishop remember the true meaning of Christmas. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend viewing this on Christmas Eve.

The sermon from the movie talks about the “empty stocking,” not written by the bishop, but by his guardian angel.

This sermon mentions all the gifts we give each other at this time of year, but that the greatest gift we can give each other is “loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched-out hand of tolerance.”

Another type of gift

Instead of buying another gift for the family or friends, might we share what we have with others less fortunate? After all, there but by the grace of God go I.

I’ve spoken to nonprofits who tell me that the bulk of their donations come in at Christmastime, which is great. The Christmas Spirit is fullest then, but essentials are needed year-round for the desperate, homeless, and lonely.

Perhaps we can take loving charity past the Yuletide and made a monthly gift of money or time to a nonprofit to help get families through the rest of the coming year. It’s only about three weeks until the 2023 kicks off.

Giving

Any number of nonprofits can set up donations each month. Shelby County has many. I’m sure I’ll miss many, but the list below is a sampling.

• Veterans Rural Outreach

• Operation Care/Serenity Center

• Centro Latino

• Habitat for Humanity

• Dare to Care

• MPCAA – Multi-Purpose Community Action Agency

• NAACP

• A Father’s Love

• Tyson’s Chance Animal Foundation

• Shelby County Animal Shelter

• Catsnip

• Shelby Saddlebred Optimist Club

• Friends of Grove Hill

• Churches with pantries and clothes closets

• National charities like St. Jude (close to my heart), American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, etc.

• And many more.

If you cannot decide, you may want to join 100 Women Shelby. They meet quarterly and pitch in $100, either per individual or a group may form to lower that cost. They hear pitches from nonprofits, then vote to give all the money to one charity at each meeting.