Define necessity: Starving African children with emaciated bodies stretching out their hands for food contrasted with North Americans shopping, carts full of toys.
Is this what Christmas looks like?
The popular John Lennon song “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” speaks to us about how we have not done much for those who are suffering yet fails to share suffering’s remedy; the true meaning of Christmas and the hope it brings through perfect love that drives out fear.
What if we were to cease starring in the role of Bystander and not just hope that the coming year is indeed a good one without any fear?
Join me in today’s VOX Daily as we explore what this time of year is truly calling us to and how you can make a difference, despite the odds.

Celebrating A Radical Christmas

Unlike most people, I haven’t set foot in a shopping centre as of yet. With just over a week until Christmas, you might think I’m setting myself up for a chaotic braving of the mall. Rest assured my friends, I intend on doing no such thing.
That being said, I have decided to do something radical and not set foot in a mall, period. No, I’m not shopping online. I’m simply not going to give gifts, at least not in the traditional sense.
No doubt you noticed the image accompanying this post and can appreciate the contrast. Images like this, to a degree, can lose their meaning unless we understand their implications and take action.

What Can You Do?

While you won’t be able to resolve the many issues plaguing humanity, you can let these words into your heart and make a decision to fight the battle on a personal level by not caving to our insatiable need for ‘more.’

Regardless of what the media and marketers tell us, our constant need for ‘more’ does nothing but leave us dissatisfied and empty, hungering for ‘more.’

Why is this?
There is a hole in our hearts that cannot be filled by things that perish such as food, clothing, toys, electronics, automobiles and so on.

What then doesn’t pass away?
The list comprises of a few things, and surprisingly, they cannot be bought, cost us nothing and have infinite worth. Those things are: Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of these being Love. These gifts were not made by man which is why they endure beyond this season and this life.

For me, the birth of Jesus Christ, who came for all people, is why Christmas is celebrated. Everything I have said about truth, faith, hope and love stems from my relationship with my Lord and Saviour, who came down from heaven to earth as a baby boy born in a humble stable and laid in a lowly manger two thousand years ago in a little town called Bethlehem.
While the magi who followed the star gave this little king costly gifts including gold, frankincense and myrrh, Jesus, the one who gave his life that we might live, simply asks for our hearts.

A Challenge

What would it look like to give gifts that endure?
What does it take to truly touch someone and make a lasting impact? Giving your heart, as the poet Christina Rossetti points out, tends to work best. The list below contains a number of ways you can do this.
๏ Creating artwork
๏ Sharing your time
๏ Being present
๏ Inviting people into your home (hospitality)
๏ Showing love to others
๏ Encouraging those around you
๏ Writing a grateful letter or email
๏ Sincerely complimenting someone
๏ Letting another person know they are treasured and have worth
๏ Doing something selfless
๏ Smiling at a stranger
๏ Opening a door
๏ Donating funds to a charity to provide gifts for the less fortunate
๏ Giving the gift of forgiveness

Will You Dare To Be Radical?

Hear me now when I say that gift giving in itself isn’t wrong, nor is it wrong to spend money on gifts to give to other people. What I am saying is that we need to be more thoughtful with how we are giving, what we are giving and the reason for it.
Do you dare to go against the grain?
If you take me up on this challenge, let me know how you’re doing! I’d love to hear from you.
Best wishes,

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Just today cleaning up the dishes from the fourth floor in our building and holding the door for some of the Professors….one of the gentleman asked if I was training for my next job. I just smiled. Let it go it is Christmas. I do expect the apology (sincere) from him later!

  2. Thank you Stephanie for this beautiful picture of the true meaning of Christmas. I was touched and convicted by your words. Have you read the book Radical by David Platt by chance?? If not, it’s a read I’m sure you’d benefit from.
    Thank you for being bold enough to post your personal convictions as well.
    Merry Christmas Indeed!

  3. Stephanie, this is the best VOX you have written yet!!! Your heart was in this, and it screamed the obvious which is needed and that we are called to declare. YOU ARE AMAZING to take a stand and declare it too, in this venue is very admirable. I have 6 kids in my house now. We are not doing a traditional Christmas. I have not shopped. They don’t really like it, but I…like you… am making a point. You are tops in my book, and I will stay with my family if only for the reason that I KNOW that I support people with like mind. We are here for a higher cause, we are not our own, and our purpose was Divinely granted if people could just take their eyes off themselves and refocus.
    By the way, the grandbaby-Giovanni is 5 months, crawling like crazy, and just adorable. We have a house full, and it gets a little nutty, but God is good! I know how busy you are but sometime if you have a slow moment…as a vain writer… I would love you to visit my website to look over my newspaper column articles or listen to some them; I also have them at here is one I think you’d enjoy listening to Poetizing Life: Upward Mobility
    HAVE A GREAT DAY DEAR! And MERRY CHRISTmas my dear sister in the Lord!

  4. I got to say that this struck my core and brought tears to my eyes. How quickly can we forget?! Thanks for sharing. From today to CHRISTmas I will give a gift (a smile, a ride, breakfast/lunch/dinner, a movie, etc). I will definitely buy gifts but after xmas is over. I don’t want to be part of traditions of man when I clearly know I need to obey the commands of God. I WILL MEET PEOPLEs NEEDS BEFORE I CONSIDER FULFILLIN THEIR WANTS!
    Thanks Stephanie

  5. I absolutely Loved this article!
    You’re so right that “things” will never fill the hole in a human heart…..Only God can fill a God shaped vacuum. Loving kindness is a gift that really matters, and the impact can be much longer lasting than the happiness of receiving a material item. Encouragement, compliments, smiles and loving words “cost” us nothing — but can mean the world to hungry, hurting hearts. Praying I’ll do better giving what Really Matters…. Thanks for this wonderful reminder.

  6. Stephanie, thanks for this inspiring piece. If we would all take a step in this direction, the world would be a much better place! Thank you also for expressing your strong faith, and for sharing the love that’s in your heart.
    Wishing everyone a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

  7. Your great thoughts swam back into mind today, Stephanie.
    We went for lunch in the local superstore. A young man in the restaurant team recognised my wife: “Hello Miss! …You taught me to read when I was ten. I passed 15 education certificates, now I’m trained as a chef. Thankyou, you changed my life”. Twelve years on, young Jonathan had remembered an adult who made the time to help him. Apart from both of us struggling not to blub into our soup, that’ll be the best Christmas present ever.

  8. Hi Mom, Daniela, Heather, Yinet, Matilda, Kim, Glenn, Howard:
    Thank you for your comments 🙂 I appreciate them and am encouraged by your words of affirmation. So long as we remember why we celebrate Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter, the truth will never be far from us and others.
    @Daniela I have heard of the book Radical but have yet to read it. I look forward to picking up a copy! Thank you 🙂
    God bless you and have a Merry Christmas!

  9. Good article, it is such a shame, that I have to see articles like this and many young people I meet today have to read an article like this to perhaps take action.
    This goes back to parents, these lessons should have been learned in the home. Young parents, teach your children this lesson easily by being an example to them so that it will be come a natural reaction for them to reach out to others. And it will make them such better people overall!
    And don’t let this type of concern only show it’s self during the Holidays, during the year keep the spirit with you every where you go. When shopping for your regular groceries, toss in an extra can of food or package of rice and beans that can be dropped off at a food bank or shelter. Remember to visit or call your own elderly relatives, friends or loved ones. Loneliness is the worst enemy of the elderly!

  10. Stephanie:
    Sorry this is so late in coming – I’ve been offline for a couple of weeks due to this busy, busy season). . . I’m finally seeding my way through a couple hundred emails.
    Thanks first for the reminder that we all need at this time of year – that “more” is really less when when it comes to our REAL needs.
    And secondly, thanks for your bold witness for Christ. As a business owner, I’m sure it’s sometimes a challenge to know where to draw the line between being authentic and genuine – being who you are as a believer – and facing clients, talent, and others who don’t agree with our faith.
    Keep it up, sister!

  11. I didn’t know you were a Christian. I applaud your bold statement. Way to go. Guess I saw this a little late, though.


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