Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jesus, The Reason for the Season

I love, love Christmas. And it is made even more special watching my four year old son and husband get into all the Christmas festivities with gusto. In the last few years, I have felt commercialism seep more into my observance of Christmas. I am driven by empathy for others and I never adhere to my list for the people I will buy gifts for. My heart is always drawn to others who do not have families to celebrate Christmas with and once I start on this road, things quickly go out of control. I also get suckered by all the wonderfully wrapped gifts at the stores and I quickly start thinking who would love a particular wonderfully wrapped box of chocolate! But of course, since they do not have much family, I need to get them something else! While it gives me great pleasure giving to others, I find myself at the stores on the 23rd of December in long lines because I have thought of yet one more person. My family has some Christmas traditions, but I have been feeling more and more that my husband and I focus more on gift giving. I will do my Christmas shopping for family on both sides and for our friends and then my husband goes to do his last minute Christmas Shopping (he likes living on the edge)! He ends up buying another gift for most of the people I had already shopped. I do not like to take the joy he gets from doing this, but I have always wished we could write down a list and stick to it! This year, I have been yearning for my observance of Christmas to have more meaning than gift buying. And God is good. When I asked my husband to let me know who he was shopping for so that we would not duplicate efforts, he said that this year he is scaling back. What! Never in a million years would I have expected this. My husband’s dad raised 5 kids as a single parent and toys and gifts were few and far between during the year. However, on each of the children’s birthdays and on Christmas, my father-in-law would go overboard. Hence my husband’s love for Christmas and “going overboard” too!

Most of my Christmas shopping was done in November. I have been successful in sticking to my list this year and my husband has surely cut back! This year, he only shopped for four people (a huge improvement from his normal list of 13-15 people)! He only shopped my son, the family member for whom he is playing Secret Santa, and a friend from church who will join us for Christmas. There is hope after all!

This year, rather than thinking of which gift I should get a friend or family member, I am more concerned that they have the greatest gift of all – Salvation. Of what value is my getting them their 100th shirt or sweater if I have never shared the gospel message with them. The earthly things will all pass away, but the gift of salvation will last for all eternity (and the consequence of rejecting that free gift). Church has been wonderful this Christmas season. Each of the last four Sundays was strictly on the Christmas message with readings from the Old and New Testament and lots of Christmas Carols. Sometimes I always feel that the church treats Christmas and Easter as an interruption to their program instead of a time to slow done and be reflective. As a child, Christmas and Easter were such "Holy" holidays and I am so full of Joy this Christmas season that I got both the simplicity I have been yearning for and church services that have been drawing me to center my observance of Christmas on Him whose birth we celebrate.

In all our preparations to make this Christmas the best one yet, May we look back to the best one of all 2,000 years ago and really spend time reflecting on the “Reason for the Season”!

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