Here are a few thoughts with which God has filled my stocking.
1. Salvation Army ringers are posted at many stores I visit. Usually I make a donation the first time I go to the store after Thanksgiving, but not after. However, last year I had an idea to assuage my guilt that I wasn't donating every time I walked by the bright red kettle.
I asked the ringer if he or she was hungry. Every time, his/her face lit up. I heard these responses:
"I had to ring through lunch. I am starved."
"I didn't have time to eat breakfast. I am very hungry."
"Ringing in a grocery store makes me want to eat.."
Listening to their answers opened a new way of being present to these volunteers. I gave each ringer the choice of a sandwich and drink from the store deli or a meal from a McDonald's just down the street. Smiles of delight and words of gratitude came when I brought the small meal. Each ringer I asked last year (four) accepted my offer. I was delighted to serve nourishment as they volunteered to help others.
2. There are over a hundred names for Jesus, including Emmanuel, Son of God, Alpha and Omega, Comforter, Door of the Sheep, Morning Star, Bread of Life. The star the night Jesus was born shone over the manger where he slept, was fed by and held by Mary and Joseph. The "morning star" in the sky was shining over the "Morning Star" resting in a manger.
3. God's heart looks like Jesus.
4. Mary tenderly placed Jesus in his first bed, a manger, a feeding trough for animals. Another one of Jesus' names is "Bread of Life". The one who became 'food for others' rested in a container where animals ate.
Although we may find candy, and small presents in our stockings, there may also be insights or perspectives about the season that may come our way. Making room for these 'small gifts from God' will fill our stockings with depth, meaning and love.