So, my wife and I celebrated Christmas yesterday. Our day was probably similar to most everyone’s in the U.S. We woke early and spent the morning exchanging gifts with each other and opening packages sent from family. After the gift-giving the celebration really seemed to be over. It was just another day with not much to do. We relaxed and spent time looking over and using some of our new “toys”.
Reflecting now on this Christmas and the Christmases of years past, I see how the day really does revolve around the gifts. We spend so much time, effort, and money in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas making sure we get the right things for those we love, then the day seems over once the last gift has been opened. Is this really what Christmas is all about?
As Christians, we know the real reason for Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, but do we celebrate the day in a way that is any different than the rest of the world? Has Christmas become “all about the gifts” even for Christians? Have we bought into the consumeristic version of Christmas that the rest of the world celebrates? How much money do we spend on Christmas every year? How many gifts do each of us need to have a good Christmas?
As I prepare to raise a child, I am wondering what I can do to make sure that our family celebrates Christmas in a way that teaches the true meaning of the holiday. I know I can teach my child the biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth, but how can I also show him/her by example that Christmas is not “all about the gifts?” Any thoughts?
Our family tried harder this year to make sure our focus was on the right thing. Although that didn’t assure a season without distractions (there are so many of those everywhere and not just during Christmas), it did help to control the commercialism. For instance, starting December, every Sunday night we read a week’s worth of pages from an Advent Calendar book, a weekly reminder about Christ’s birth. Then, on Christmas morning, we read the entire story again before we opened our presents. By doing something on a regular basis during the month, it helped somewhat in looking deeper than the decorations, the tree, the food, and the presents.
But I would suggest not focusing too much on the over-commercialism. I made that mistake last year and the pessimism and negativity ended up souring my Christmas. Tuning it out is much better than getting worked up over the “Big Blowout Sale” and “Without Santa, there would be no child-like faith” commercial garbage you see on television.
If I may take a quote from my buddy, the Grinch:
“That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts. You know what happens to your gifts? They come to me in your garbage. You see what I’m saying? This whole Christmas season is stupid, stupid, stupid!”
And if it’s all we focus on, to buy the “perfect gift” for someone who will only be discarding it when it loses its luster (“I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored, and then sell it to make glue”. -Grinch), then yes, it is a very stupid holiday. The “perfect gift” is eternal salvation from sins and the baby who was born to give it away to all.
It’s obviously not a bad thing to have decorations, traditions and gifts, as long as the children realize they act only as icing on the cake or gravy to the meat and potatoes.
Gifts are a part of the Christmas tradition, but only one part. If you want to raise a family that isn’t focused only on gifts, I suggest developing several Christmas traditions, each one can be as important to the Christmas celebration as is the giving of gifts. Hopefully, some of these traditions will involve worshipping our Savior and helping others.
Who’s birthday is it again? This is the one Birthday Party where the Guest of Honor really gets by-passed. Because of your earlier Blog Tim, I was thinking about something you asked on feeding the hungry and a Biblical truth came out …
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. Matthew 25:45.
What if we had a Birthday Party for Jesus? It wouldn’t even have to be on Christmas. The gifts would go directly to Him as per Matthew 25:40!
Just thinking out loud.