Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

So, again, I am being made to think about what Christmas is all about.

"Jesus is the reason for the season"

"Santa Claus comes and brings toys to all the good girls and boys"

"It's a time for friends and family to gather together"

"It just wouldn't be Christmas without the presents"

The last quote was a line that really stood out at me from the children's christmas program I attended with my family on Sunday. It isn't Christmas without presents? Really??

My little family of four is working on what we really believe about how to celebrate Christmas. We want to have a tradition that means something to our children after they've grown and left the nest. We're not sure how to do that.

I do know that I believe that celebrating Jesus's birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ was the ultimate Gift that God gave us. The Wise Men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts for the baby Jesus. These are all good reasons why we give gifts to each other. But how many? How expensive should they be? Do we measure expense by cost in dollars, or as an expenditure of the time spent to create the gift, or as a percentage of income? Who should spend the time to think about the gift: the gift giver, or the receiver (in writing a Christmas Wish List). Do we really gain any Christmas Cheer by giving pointless gifts to people who don't need anything anyway?

I also know that Santa Claus isn't real. We won't be having anything Santa in our home. Santa is a nice, cute story, but we will be encouraging our children to believe the truth - Santa isn't real, neither is the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Jesus, the son of God who was responsible for many miracles in the Old Testament and capable of anything, was born to a Virgin, whose birth was announced by Angels and a Star, who was worshipped by Shepherds, who grew up and lived without sin, who died as atonement for my sins, and rose from the dead, and by faith in him I am made worthy of heaven. The real story, true as it is, is unbelievable and amazing enough to keep me from seeing a need to fill my children's heads with lies about Santa.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is widely accepted as being a stressful time. Between decorating the home, buying and wrapping gifts, and going to parties, and baking goodies, and taking pictures, and writing and addressing and mailing Christmas Cards, singing carols, going to church....where do we find the true meaning behind all the busy-ness?? What's the point? To me there has to be a good reason to invite all this stress into my family's life.

So...the point of all this rambling writing: How to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way? Yes, it involves gifts - but how to avoid presents becoming the main event? Do we find a way to give to the needy? (anything you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me) What ways can we build meaningful holiday traditions that keep Christ the focus of CHRISTmas? I wish I had an answer for 2009....but hope to have one in place for 2010 and beyond.