Every year I see my local Walmart start bringing out Christmas decorations right before Halloween and go all out right after it. It’s as if it’s all about how much money one can spend on the latest and greatest decorations and gifts. I am watching a Christmas movie right now and not even ten minutes into the movie, I began to feel what I call the Christmas blues. It happens every year. I start looking at reality in my household. Oh, we don’t lack much, but when it comes to Christmas, I begin feeling like I can’t support my family and get the kids what they really want for Christmas. I begin feeling like a poor, low class citizen who can’t even afford to pay attention.
Maybe you can relate. I live in a three bedroom apartment with one bathroom, five kids, a dog, three cats and a fish tank. I look at reality and see how blessed I am as is evident by all the things I have in my house. But then, my heart looks and realizes that my heart is not happy with our current living situation. I would love to have a much bigger house with a bigger space to entertain friends and family for Christmas. Not that I’m not grateful what what I have, but I do know that as a child of God, I am not supposed to settle for less than what He wants for me.
I know it seems like I’m rambling, but I do have a point. Even though I have a lot, I look at what I don’t have when it comes to Christmas and start feeling like I’m not a good supporter of my family. It’s kind of like watching your friends get blessed in ways that you have been praying to be blessed. It sucks and you wonder what you’re doing wrong.
The reality is that Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with money and the things it can or can’t buy. Yes, it has its roots in pagan tradition, but nearly all Christian holidays have pagan roots. Go figure. We observe Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which really didn’t happen in December. Any studious Bible scholar would discover that Jesus was born closer to March or April. I think we settled on December because the snow seems to have a way of making things peaceful and serene. But that’s for another post.
I have to remind myself up until Christmas that it’s not about the stuff. It’s a time to remember friends and family. It’s a time of giving, of love, of joy, and of peace on earth. It’s about giving to others, especially to those who don’t have the chance to enjoy Christmas. But I have a feeling that these are the people who really understand what Christmas is all about.
For the past few years, I have seen the reaction of my kids at Christmas and see their excitement as they open up their gifts. I have two older kids who have split lives. They enjoy Christmas with both my wife and I and their dad’s family. But they are so used to getting pretty much everything they ask for on Christmas and then they like to brag to us about what they got. Then when it comes to Christmas at our house, these two don’t really seem to be grateful for what they got because it’s not what they wanted. Oh, they might get what they want, but it might not be the color or particular brand or style they wanted.
I suggested once that as a possible way to teach the kids about what Christmas is really about and to be grateful for what they did get regardless of the specifics about the gift, that instead of purchasing the gifts for our own kids, we give them to families who go without because they don’t have the money to get gifts for their kids. They didn’t go for that idea.
My wife and I have a struggle each year with teaching our kids that Christmas would be Christmas even without gifts. That it’s really about Jesus and His birth. So, when it comes to the actual day(s) of Christmas celebration, I am very truly happy and blessed. I love to see all the family together. I don’t especially love all the loudness of 15 kids talking above each other, but I deal with it. Jesus really is what it is all about.