There are 38 shopping days until Christmas.
Oh, boy! I am so excited! I can hardly stand it!
Well, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little; maybe more than a little.
I am not much of a shopper, and most of the time I am one of those last minute Christmas shoppers.
I have never gone shopping on Black Friday. I'm just not fond of those frenzied types of crowds. And I never have found it pleasant to be trampled underfoot by a mob.
And, I especially don't enjoy shopping for those people who have everything they will ever need.
One of the silliest gifts I've ever heard of is when someone spends their money to name a star somewhere out in a galaxy far, far away after a friend or loved one. Just give them that money instead! Duh!
There are so many good things that people can do with their money instead of buying someone underwear or socks or another tie or some bizarre looking sweater; or a "pretend star."
One of my favorite gift-giving ideas is a program called "Gifts from the Heart" or "Alternative Christmas."
This is a program that has been going on at First Presbyterian Church for a number of years that the Missions Committee of the congregation makes available for people in the community.
Various non-profit organizations and local ministries set up booths in the fellowship hall of the church to share their ministry with those people who attend. Attendees can make a donation to the organization of their choice in the name of that person who is so hard to buy for.
This is a great way to help people in need and honor a friend or loved one at the same time.
This year's "Gifts from the Heart" or "Alternative Christmas" is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For those of you who may not know, First Presbyterian is that historic church behind the Post Office. You can enter the building from the back of the church.
Organizations that will be represented include The Child Development Center; Good Samaritan; CROSS Shelter; CASA; South Central Relative Caregiver Relief Program; 10,000 Villages; Heifer International; Habitat for Humanity; and Women of Grace.
I want to encourage you to drop by on the 23rd and choose one or two of these worthwhile organizations to make a gift to on behalf of that person on your shopping list that you'd like to honor or memorialize.
Every one of these organizations does a wonderful job helping children, women, families, and even whole communities.
My wife recently made a donation to Women of Grace in memory of her mother. I have made numerous gifts to Habitat for Humanity and Good Samaritan over the years. I purchased some of the Habitat children's books and donated them to several of our local school libraries. There are so many ways that we can truly give "Gifts from the Heart" and have it mean so much, not just to your friend or family member, but to meaningful ministries as well.
I love the words of Jesus in Luke 6:38, "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over."
I love to give. I may not really enjoy shopping, but I do like to give gifts to people I love and to people I may not even know.
Jesus also said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Do something a little different this Christmas; give a gift that really matters. Honor your friend, your child, your spouse, or your neighbor by giving a gift in their name.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.