Last week I was at a church Christmas party and the topic of discussion turned, as it often does, to the apparent travesty of the commercialization of this sacred holiday and what we could do in our own families to bring Christ back into Christmas. Of course the first consensus was to stop shopping/buying as much. The only problem with this is that we live in an economy that is driven by our insatiable appetite to consume. In America shopping less, while prudent, would only wreak more havoc on our struggling economy. Plus, being the owner of a UPS Store, I wanted to yell, No, I have a better idea: procrastinate your shopping, then buy more than you need, and ship it all out of State . . . 2Day Air!
Then, there was an idea to limit the amount of gifts to three: one being something the child wants, another something he/she needs, and third a gift of time. In addition, there were the usual suggestions of service in the place of presents, giving up a gift for a needy child, and so on.
Now, it has been a while since I was a young child but I’m pretty sure that if my parents had said they were withholding presents to bring me closer to Jesus— call me selfish—but I would have felt anything but closer to Him.
So now I’m asking myself, why do we feel so compelled to come up with ways of feeling closer to Christ at Christmas? Then I started thinking, maybe if we were closer to Him on a daily basis we wouldn’t miss his presence so much at the holidays. Could it be less a societal issue and more a religious matter that is merely amplified by a holiday that calls attention to our spiritual inadequacies? What if we simply made an effort daily to be more tolerant and charitable, less judgmental and self-absorbed? Maybe then we wouldn’t have to sift through all the commercialism to find Christ because he would at Christmas, as he had every other day, already be our focus.
Perhaps then we could see through all the crowded malls and bargain signs to the symbols that are a part of what we think we should be rejecting. That the evergreen of the tree, the blinking lights and the red bows all add up to eternal life, the light of Christ, and His death and atonement.
But most important, we should never forget the gifts and all they represent.