Warning: If you are someone who is easily offended when someone calls into question “traditional celebrations of holidays”, you should probably not read beyond this point. But, thanks for visiting this blog. Check back later when I might step off of my soapbox.
It’s the time of year that people have started asking the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” And, like most people, of course there are things that I “want”. My list is generally ridiculous…
3. Noble & Cooley Solid Oak Jazz Kit
5. Dinner at Le Bernardin (the chef’s tasting menu, with wine pairings, of course!)
Now, as I said before, my lists are generally ridiculous!
The truth is that I really don’t “need” anything for Christmas. So, when people ask, I give them a list of items that are well beyond what anyone would even consider as a gift.
The honest truth is that I really don’t “want” anything for Christmas either. I’m being serious…honestly…I mean it.
In our materialistic, consumer-driven society, we have gotten so far away from the true meaning of Christmas. Over the last several years, due to movements like the Advent Conspiracy, films like “What Would Jesus Buy“, and books like “Christmas is Not Your Birthday”, my views on Christmas have been quickly changing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my girls eyes light up when they open gifts on Christmas day. However, I’m convinced that I need to teach them a better way to celebrate the birth of Christ. So, even as I stand on my soapbox, I’m conflicted.
Often, we compete to see who can give the biggest, the best, the fanciest gifts to our friends and family members. We stretch ourselves financially, many going further into debt in order to have a child go “wow” for about 3-seconds and then quickly forget that you just gave them the latest piece of crap that the toy manufacturers convinced you your child needs. I mean, let’s be honest, how many of the toys (or video games or clothes) that you purchased for last years Christmas celebration are your kids still using?
According to information you can “google”, the average American will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $700-1,000 on Christmas this year. Many will spend more. Some will spend less. Most do not have an extra $700-1000 sitting around and will put that amount on credit cards or will take out a “holiday loan” from their favorite lending institution…meaning they will pay more than the sticker price.
And, we just don’t compete to “out do” each other. Many will keep track of things…to make sure that they received as many presents as their brothers and sisters. Many will make sure that mom and dad spent just as much on them as they did their siblings. We want to make sure we received what we deserve.
So, maybe we should start viewing Christmas differently.
Rather than purchasing lavish gifts (or a bunch of not-so-lavish gifts that still add up), we could give one another the gift of our time…of our presence.
Rather than tearing into our gifts and viewing Jesus as a nice after-thought to our celebrations, we could come up with creative ways to make Jesus the focus of the day (I know this is kind of dorky and borderline conservative fundamental cheesy religion, but we’ve been known to have a birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus).
Rather than buying gifts as usual, we could make a conscious effort to buy products that help others (like products from Toms or Equal Exchange).
Maybe for Christmas, we could take the money we would have spent on gifts for one another and do what Jesus calls us to do…to demonstrate our love for Him and our love for one another by clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, caring for the needs of the least of these.
Mike Slaughter challenges people to give as much money to worthy organizations as they do on their Christmas celebrations. So, if you spend $700, give $700. Many of us would say, “I couldn’t afford to do that.” If that’s the case, then we don’t have the $700 to spend on Christmas in the first place.
For me, the bottom line is this…I need to re-examine how I celebrate Christmas and why I’ve chosen to celebrate it in that manner. Then, I need to address how my family can adjust the way we celebrate to better honor Jesus.
And, in all honesty, I need to do my best to withhold my judgment towards others who make the decision to celebrate in a different manner.
So, if you are someone who feels like you really need to get me something, here are some realistic ideas…
1. Make a one-time donation to Mission Guatemala for the amount that you would have spent on a gift. This mission organization if very near to my heart. Tom and Dave do incredible work and I can guarantee that your funds would be used to better the lives of those in the greater San Andres area.
2. Make a donation to Kids Against Hunger. A small donation goes a long way in feeding children in our local communities and around the world.
3. Make a donation to charity:water. It’s amazing how easy it is to take for granted access to clean drinking water.
4. Pull a George Costanza and fool me by making a donation to “The Human Fund”.
5. Or, I guess, if none of these things appeal to you…you could buy me a 4-pack of Guinness Pub Draught Cans.
What are your ideas for celebrating Christmas differently?