Whether we think we are ready for Christmas or not, the day for celebration of Christ’s birth is upon us. Doesn’t seem possible this year is almost gone but the calendar blatantly shows it is.
Christmas is so much different in today’s world than it was when I was a child. Usually the way we celebrate is based on our upbringing and how we celebrated as children and the influences of others around us and their celebrations.
In our home, we got one big item we wanted usually and we anticipated getting that item all year. We may have gotten a few other presents, not very many though, usually things like clothes that we needed. But there was no mass amount of presents under the tree.
Our grandparents could not afford to give us presents and while we enjoyed celebrating at their homes, it was not about the presents. Usually, it was about the food, especially Bigmama’s chocolate pie and coconut cake. There were rare moments some years when I would get called aside and given something, a memento or something small, and would be told not to tell the other grandkids as there just wasn’t enough money to buy everyone something. I’m sure they did the same thing to the others from time to time. But I never felt bad about not getting a present from my grandparents. I understood their limitations in the financial department and Christmas then was not about presents.
Because money was tight growing up, once I started working and had children of my own, I admit I would go overboard at times, as if it was making up for me not having very much at Christmas. Even in the lean times, I was able to get things for my children as God always provided. You can never make up for those things you experienced in your life and eventually God gave me that revelation. Besides, it wasn’t my children who went through the experience, it was me.
Over the years I have tried to cut back, vowing I wouldn’t overdo it, but some years I still find myself picking up presents when I see something I think someone would like. For me, it has been about giving, not receiving. I get joy from giving people presents, especially, if it’s something I know they will like or want.
But this year is different. I have definitely cut back. It’s not about the presents under the tree, never was, never will be either. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth and we’ve made is into something that was never meant. I’m sure it breaks God’s heart.
These days if we want something, we go and buy it, we don’t wait until Christmas. Kids get things bought throughout the year and we live in an age of wish lists for birthdays at stores which have actually taken the fun out of giving even birthday presents. It’s about things and getting exactly what you want, not what someone goes and picks out for you. To me, that takes away from the present being special. As I said, we live in a different era. Not necessarily a better one either.
But with all of that, why should we be so extravagant at Christmas? Getting so much all the time, makes us less appreciative. I ask myself what are we teaching our children when we over indulge with presents. Let’s go back to it being simpler and take away the stress that some people experience and let’s make it about what Christ’s birth means for us. Let’s make it about the people in our lives and sharing the miracle of Christ’s birth and the impact it has on our lives. Let’s, as our pastor said Sunday, experience that joy every day.
Doing so, doesn’t mean you can’t decorate or buy presents, it just means scaling down and letting the real reason for the season be front and center. We shouldn’t let commercialism drive our Christmas celebrations. We’ve shifted our focus from the babe lying a manager wrapped in swaddling clothes, to a storefront window or a store website with designer clothes and toys wrapped in bright paper, which will be discarded with newer toys sooner than you can imagine.
Tell me, seriously, what does a decorated tree, mistletoe, decorations, Santa and reindeer have to do with the birth of Jesus? He was born in a lowly manger surrounded by animals. There was nothing extravagant about it. We don’t even know for sure when He was born.
What would Jesus think of our celebrations? He would be appalled and want us to be helping others instead of spending extravagantly. He might even think we are worshiping the beautifully decorated tree and the idea of Christmas and that we place too much pride in our traditions. He certainly wouldn’t care about what gift we bought for different people. He would want to know have we fed His sheep and have we shown love to others; do we keep His commandments and have we shared the gospel and the plan of salvation with others.
It’s time we rethink our Christmas celebrations. Let’s focus more on Christ’s presence, not the presents under the tree. Let’s love one another and tell those who don’t know Christ, about Him and His plan of salvation. That’s my plan for this year and I hope you will pray about yours.©2017
VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org