THE INCREASE: My Favorite Time Of The Year - Matt Forte

Christmas is going to be a big deal this year. Both sides of the family will be coming to our place to celebrate so we are looking forward to a big bash, including tons of food, kids running around, and a ton of fun for everyone.

What I love most about Christmas is the joyful and festive atmosphere. Listening to Christmas music, decorating the tree, setting up the train that circles the tree, seeing all the lights, anticipating a day filled with family and gift-giving, and watching our kids enjoy the mysticism of Santa Claus. I can remember being their age, becoming so filled with excitement and wonder at the magic in the air. My older brother was always so animated and intense about it all. He used to wake up and insist that he’d heard reindeer hoofs on the roof during the night, and year after year he was amazed to find that Santa came, leaving only a few crumbs from the cookies we’d leave out for his midnight snack. Still to this day I’m just a big kid when it comes to Christmas. I was so excited last year when my mom got me a new train to go around the tree; that’s one of my favorite things!

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Though I believed in Santa until I was about 10 or 11-years-old, I still always knew that Christmas was about something much greater — the birth of Jesus Christ. But it wasn’t until I was older when I was truly able to appreciate Christmas for what it really is. I finally understood why it is so important for us to celebrate: It’s about Christ coming into the world, beginning His ministry here on earth to die to save us, overcoming so many obstacles and defeating sin once and for all.

This time of year creates a great, organic opportunity for us to share our faith in Christ with those around us. Holidays can be really stressful seasons for people. Many are worried about paying bills, affording toys for their kids, or organizing visits with family. These are moments when we can reiterate how important it is to rely on God and trust in Him, not for material things but for lasting hope and purpose. As the songs say, He is the reason for the season; He’s what brings us so much joy! If you see someone this season who looks like they have the holiday blues, talk to them about the joy you have in Christ. The answer is found in Him.

This season we as a team want to reach out to our community to help them experience the joy of Christmas. As an organization, we want to have a positive presence amongst our community so Kelvin Beachum, Demario Davis, Josh McCown and I have been talking with Chris Johnson, the Jets’ owner, about taking part in “Shop with a Jock and a Cop.” This project allows us as players to pair up with a local police officer to treat a less fortunate kid in the community to a shopping trip for a toy or much-needed coat or pair of shoes for Christmas. We want to diffuse the idea that cops are bad, prejudice or racist. We also want to rid anyone of the notion that we as athletes don’t respect police officers or people of other ethnicities. This opportunity gives us a chance to show a better way to do community and introduces local law enforcement officials to children in their area who they can connect with in a positive way. We know this can bring hope and joy to the people in our area — bringing different sides together during the most magical time of the year.

This is the season for joy, hope, and giving to others. What better time or opportunity can we have to share the love of Christ with those around us?

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” — Titus 3:3-7

Matt Forte

Matt Forte is a running back with the New York Jets and a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.

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