I may be dating myself by saying this, but when I was a child it was common to give or receive fruit baskets during the Christmas season. The basket would include various types of hardy fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, apples and pears with an occasional pineapple and added walnuts. These expressions of kindness were one of the most popular holiday gifts given during the Christmas season.
Throughout the ages people valued fresh fruit because of its difficulty to obtain. Also due to its sweet taste. It was also known to help fight health problems that at the time were fatal, such as a Vitamin C deficiency called Scurvy.
People would store up money for months in order to buy oranges or grapefruits to give to their loved ones, usually as holiday gifts. Wealthy people would often give citrus fruit as a wedding gift or serve citrus fruit at wedding banquets to show off their wealth.
It is evident that people still enjoy the gift of fruit by the rise and popularity of items from stores like Edible Arrangements. I too have been overjoyed to partake in a flower of cantaloupe, pineapples and grapes. However, the commercialization of the season and the many electronic, toy and jewelry ads that are pushed at us daily seem to override the more simplistic gift ideas and traditions making them seem insufficient and sometimes inadequate.
I encourage you to think about going back to the days of old and consider giving fruit to those you love and care about this season. But not a gift of tangerines or grapes, but rather the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
A basket full of these characteristics would be a blessing to the life that receives and partakes of it. The first fruit spoken of in Galatians is love. There are many in need of love this time of year. John Cacioppo, a professor of psychology who has spent 20 years studying the impact of loneliness, tracked the health of more than 2,000 men and women aged 50-plus for six years. The loneliest men and women were almost twice as likely to die during that period as those who felt the most wanted and needed. Another study found loneliness to be twice as deadly as obesity. Feeling cut off from others can push blood pressure up into the danger zone for heart attacks and strokes, weaken the immune system and raise the odds of depression, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference heard. [i] Love is vital. It provides a sense of belonging and it is literally a life line. Perhaps you have been hurt before and have held back on loving again. You are doing more damage to yourself than to the one who offended you. Will you consider giving the fruit of love?
Joy, a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, is also missing in our society. It is missing because we fail to distribute it. We have become hoarders instead of handers. We hold fast instead of supplying. In John 15:11 Jesus speaks to us saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” It is His desire that our joy is jam packed and full to the brim. We have the ability to speak the words of Jesus to provide the same delight to those around us, but we must be willing. This holiday season will you consider giving the fruit of joy?
Longsuffering is a fruit that is definitely needed and rarely given. It is evident every day that this fruit has not been distributed in our society in an extended time. We live in a world full of intolerant, impatient, judgmental, unforgiving and unaccommodating people. We do not have time to open doors, to say hello, or even wait for someone to find some change in a purse to pay a cashier. We are aggressive in traffic and standing in lines. We are in a rush to get to the places we are going and to do the assignments we are tasked. We have no time for those who are taking time any more. When longsuffering is not exercised soon goes kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. There is a “scurvy” of character that is at epidemic levels in our world today. Will you consider giving the fruit of kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness?
Self-control or temperance is yet another fruit that is much needed, but is absent. The advent of social media gives every man a podium and a soap box. We can speak on whatever and whomever we will. We squirt our venom and approval of people we will never see in person or get to know until we are satisfied. There is no moderation or voluntary self-restraint in action, thought, or feeling, we just let it all hang out. It is a cancer that is plaguing our society that is raging out of control. Sadly and most unfortunately there is a cure and treatment, but most will choose not to medicate. Will you consider giving the fruit of temperance?
Andy Williams wrote a song entitled “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. I choose to believe that it should be. It is the season of celebrating the giving of the best gift. It can be “the hap-happiest season of all” with just a few changes. Let’s bring back the joys of giving and receiving fruit baskets knowing that with each taste we are flavoring and transforming the world around us. It is a gift that will “keep on giving” because within each piece of Sprit fruit is a seed that begin the process over again.
[i] Daily Mail article