By U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (A-1)
If you are like me, you likely spend precious time around Christmas trying to decide on the perfect gift for your loved one. For those of us with children and grandchildren, we often search high and low to find the latest trendy toy or item.
Through all the time spent searching for the perfect gift, it is especially important that we take time to reflect on what Christmas is really about and count our many blessings. As it is written in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
So often during the holidays we forget about those around us who are struggling in different ways. Whether it is due to a medical condition, a loss of work or something else, there are many around us who are hurting this holiday season. To many of these people, the holidays are a time of darkness and despair.
As Christmas signifies the birth of Jesus, I hope we can all emulate the giving spirit of the Beloved Son. This Christmas, I encourage you to give of your time or resources to help those in need because, to me, giving back is what the holidays are all about.
Christmas is about individuals like Citronelle Mayor Al McDonald who gives part of his salary each month to community schools, churches and civic organizations.
Christmas is about religious organizations like St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Brewton, who opened a thrift shop to increase their community outreach and better the lives of people in the community.
Christmas reminds us of individuals like the late Harry McCall Read from Flomaton who was a long-time scoutmaster with a true servant’s heart.
Christmas is when local schools, organizations and businesses partner to make a positive impact, like the Great Toy Drive in Mobile which is organized by local TV station WKRG.
Christmas is a special time when groups like those at Grace Fellowship in Atmore assemble special boxes for children in need all around the globe.
Christmas is about students, like those in the City of Jackson, who collected more than 2,000 items during their annual canned food drive.
A few weeks ago, my wife Rebecca and I volunteered at Christian Life Church’s food pantry in Orange Beach. Just last weekend, I volunteered with the Salvation Army “Bell Ringer” program to help collect money to benefit those in need. It brought a smile to my face to see children and adults of all ages dropping money, from a small as a quarter to as big as a handful of cash, into the red kettle.
Christmas is about the countless others from our area and across the nation who have set time aside to make a difference. No matter how much or how little, Christmas is time to give back to those who need it most.
Let’s also not forget our military men and women who are away from their families this Christmas. Each of us should say a special prayer for the safety and security of these dedicated individuals and for the comfort of their loved ones.
Through all the hustle and bustle, let us not forget that the best gift you can give this Christmas is your time and resources to help those in need. So this holiday season, and every day, let’s remember what is written in John 1:5, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” I encourage each of you to be a shining beacon of hope this Christmas season.