Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I Think About--Christmas

I love Christmas.

And I struggle with Christmas.

What?

I love the trees, the music, the lights, the merry making.

I hate the "Christmas v. Xmas v. Happy Holidays" debate.  I hate the rush to buy over-priced gadgets for our already spoiled children.  I hate how we ignore those with less because we "need" more (or newer).

I hate trying to find the balance between what I think Christmas is about--the birth of Christ--and what Christmas really seems to be about--presents!

Sometimes I look around me and feel like we all missed the point of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  I mean, it's cute to say that Christmas would feel like Christmas without the presents and music and trees--but would it?

Think about that, are you willing to give up one Christmas holiday to prove that you can be joyous and merry without the tree and shopping and wrapping and food?

I'd wager to say most of us would say no. 

I'm certain we are so embedded into the commercial Christmas mentality that we can't imagine the holiday any. other. way.

We wouldn't dare try it because when it comes down to it, Christmas doesn't mean something more.  Christmas really does come from a store.

Source
I read on The Land of La La that the picture above will be a HUGE, EXPENSIVE billboard in New York this season.  It makes me mad.  It makes me sad.  But the truth is that from the outside, Christians celebrate Christmas the exact same way Atheists do.  We celebrate ourselves, our status, our materials ... we forget Jesus (except for during the Christmas Eve service because, by golly, we can't let a Christmas Day service get in the way of all the important present unwrapping ...).

How do we convince non-Christians that our God is big and mighty and that this season is about Him when WE can't even convince ourselves of the same thing?  How do we convince them that HE is enough we WE don't believe HE is enough?

For years I've struggled with Christmas--not because I'm a Scrooge but because I'm a Grinch.  I need someone to show me that Christmas doesn't come from a store.  That it's about giving and helping and heart and Jesus.

Now I know Christians will flock to church during the holiday and they'll help in food kitchens and give to charities ... but what about in January?  What about in July?  Is there a Christian out there who is willing to skip commercial Christmas to encourage a socially just world?  Will we give up a gift to help the man on the side of the road?

When we had M.E. Matt and I decided we would, minimally, do things different.  We tell her all about Santa--about how he is a FICTITIOUS man who lives at the North Pole but how real gifts come from generous hearts (Yes, that's right.  She believes in Jesus not Santa. *gasp*). We sing about Frosty but more often we sing to Jesus. 

But I always wish I could do more.

And this is where I'm heading ...


What I think about Christmas is that if Christians want people to think the holiday is more about Jesus than gifts, than it is time for Christians to make Christmas more about Jesus than gifts.

9 comments:

  1. That billboard disturbs me.

    It's easy to get wrapped up in the material. We try not to by not going overboard and being sure to teach our kids about the real reason for Christmas. But, there are times when I think about the traditions of Christmas and realize they have very little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with materialism.

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  2. I agree about Christmas. There are things I love about it but, I sometimes wish we could skip it and keep what it should be about all year long. It starts to become stressful and about gifts and honestly I wish that we could just get together as a family and enjoy the fellowship without buying gifts. Truly Christmas seems to have nothing to do with Jesus these days. I don't tell my kids about Santa either.

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  3. You put your finger right on a lot of my holiday frustrations. Thank you for this post!
    We Christians need to shape up. I think the reason that a lot of people would rather think that there is not a God is b/c we have done a pretty bad job at depicting who Christ is. :(

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  4. First, let me say that you can't 'put' Christ back into something when He was never there in the first place. Christmas IS a completely pagan holiday and Christ's birth was ONLY incorporated to pull us away from our Hebrew heritage as believers. Christ was really born on the Biblical feast of Sukkot-it can be calculated from Mary's visit to Elisabeth because of Elisabeth's husband's service in the temple. You are 100% correct to say that all would be lost if we took away the 'trappings' because we seriously love our 'trappings' more than we love TRUTH. My family has not kept Christmas for 14 years now, choosing the Biblical Holy Days instead. We celebrate Christ's birth when it REALLY happened and have learned SO much more about who God really is. The holidays are by far one of the biggest traps for believers that I know of, along with Easter. Although we now celebrate Hanukkah instead, I still enjoy the lights and some of the music and tv shows but no longer feel trapped as though I am not honoring God in the right fashion and we see a different facet of God's love for us than we ever knew...it is truly AMAZING!!! You remember the verse in John 8:12? Where Jesus says 'I am the light of the world'? He was saying that while celebrating Hanukkah! While lighting the Hanukkah candles, He was explaining that HE is the light that sustains us! I would love to talk to you more about it all. Feel free to ask, ok?!

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  5. Thanks for this, Reagan. I get a lot of heat for having told my children the truth about Santa from their birth, but I want to make sure that they can trust me when I tell them about Jesus.

    One tradition that I love is that my family would bake a birthday cake for Jesus instead of cookies for Santa. I think I'll try that this year with my kids.

    You've inspired me to find a different way to give than to just add 5 bucks for the Salvation Army at the checkout lane. Thanks.

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  6. My mom loves to tell the story of how she used to get all caught up in all the stress of gifts and holiday parties. Then one year, it all changed. She found out that a family in our church didn't have any money for a tree, Christmas gifts or a big dinner. So she and my Dad bought a couple small gifts and food and brought it to their house. When they got there they expected to find a house filled with stress and sadness over not "having Christmas." They were shocked to find the family singing worship songs gathered around nativity scene decor. No tree. No gifts. Not even a "real" Christmas dinner. By not having all the extras, their entire focus was on the Messiah's birth. Their attitude forever changed the way my Mom thought about Christmas.

    That being said, and this is probably the most "un-Christian" thing I've ever said, I hate Christmas. I hate that there is no distinction between how Christians celebrate it and how non-believers celebrate it. I hate that even though we may say otherwise, it really is ALL about the gifts and commercial things. What if instead of all the gifts, trees, and ridiculous plastic santas, we spent the day praying and worshipping and serving others? Because if it really is about celebrating our Messiah's birth, that's what we would/should do.

    And thus ends my rant. :)

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  7. These thoughts have been stirring in my head the last few days. I wrote a blog about all the consumerism a few days ago and since then have been continuing to think about things. Thanks for posting this!

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  8. What a great post. I feel the same way! It's so sad that if we were to take out the gift giving and the commercialism out of Christmas, the holiday wouldn't be the same anymore. :(

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  9. We too have been looking for better ways to celebrate the Christmas season and Jesus' birth than buying gifts our loved ones don't need and spending money we don't have. So this year, we plan on focusing more on Advent than on Christmas Day. This allows us to really be celebrating EVERY day (like we should) and do things that create memories for our family instead of just surviving the rush!

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