Season of good cheer brings out Christmas joy in many.
It is the Christmas season and once again we’re hearing people complain about the crass commercialism, the pervasive securalization and the rudeness of shoppers as they fight over sale items. These accounts are true, but thankfully they are not taking away from the “good cheer” that many of us prefer to show now and throughout the year.
In recent weeks this writer has been hearing reports of people who are “paying it forward” by paying down or paying off someone’s Christmas layaway account at a department store. Kmart seems to be the place where this is happening the most, given that this store has recently resurrected its layaway department and has been providing a way for families to pay for their Christmas purchases bit by bit.
Like a rapidly spreading fire, shoppers are going to the store to make an installment on or pay off a layaway account and are finding that their bills have been paid in full. For those shoppers with the means to pay off their accounts, they’ve chosen to pay it forward by covering the expense for another shopper’s layaway account.
Of course, not everyone can pay it forward. Those especially being targeted for help by big-hearted people across the nation are those layaway accounts where children’s clothes and toys have been set aside by their parents.
Kmart has been readily cooperating with what they say are mostly anonymous donors, by helping to identify which account holders are behind on their payments. This allows do-gooders the opportunity to contribute to someone who most likely would have a difficult time providing for their families at Christmas let alone pay it forward.
In some cases donors have made partial payments in a bid to reduce a customer’s bill. In other situations the entire layaway cost was covered. Some stores have reported that donors have paid off multiple late accounts for goods that were on the verge of being returned to inventory.
I can’t say for certain what the motivations are of people who are giving, but I see at least one biblical application being put into practice as outlined in Matthew 6:3-4 :
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
In any case, the seasonal good cheer being shown by some is one movement that I certainly hope will spread in the coming days and lead us all to reflect on the generosity God shows us. And that is what Christmas is all about!
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