“Christmas is almost here!”
My dear friend had a stressed look on her face– the kind one gets when times are hard and money is tight.
Another year has flown past leaving many of us wondering what happened. Every year we plan to do things differently and every year the holiday rush sneaks up on us. Once again, we find ourselves facing a new holiday season while we’re still paying the bills for last year’s gifts.
The holiday season can be a very frustrating and depressing time of the year. We aren’t ready. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have enough time. We don’t know what to buy. And the very idea of going shopping causes our blood pressure to rise.
Black Friday is the newest of our holidays. This day declares our allegiance to consumerism. In some ways we have transformed the Christmas tradition to a glorification of excess. Is it really the season to be merry or the season to be materialistic?
Could it be we have lost control of what used to be a joyous time of the year and, if that’s true, is there a way back? Could there be are other reasons to celebrate Christmas?
Here are two solutions to this dilemma–celebrate the season as a time for family togetherness or celebrate it in the traditional religious sense of the holiday.
Celebrating Christmas as a time for the family can involve exchanging gifts, but more importantly, it should be a time to make memories and carry on family traditions.
Some families have traditions that go back generations- activities as simple as a special dinner toast or attending midnight mass. Or they may involve activities that require detailed planning–like hosting a live nativity scene.
Some families are adapting to the concept of minimalism and buying very few gifts. Instead they are choosing “together time” rather than indulgences. Other families are performing public service projects together, like volunteering time at a nursing home or homeless shelter. They are giving rather than receiving.
Making these changes can be a real challenge, depending on how spoiled your children are. But it can be done. More importantly, the holiday can become a festive occasion and not a dreaded event.
I spoke with a smaller group of folks who celebrate Christmas for a different reason. They adhere to the traditional religious view of Christmas. This view is well recorded throughout scripture– especially in the Gospel of Luke. This event was also prophesized hundreds of years earlier by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6).
In a nutshell– God sent His son to save mankind.
Celebrating Christmas in the traditional religious sense offers a feeling of closeness to our creator and of gratitude for such an awesome gift. It is devoid of the materialism of the modern-day Christmas holiday. Exchanging gifts is a part of this celebration, but not the central focus. It makes Christmas much bigger than a shopping spree. It also makes it an event unlike any other in the history of mankind.
Either one of these views of Christmas is better than the present tradition of excess.
We are already overrun with stressful lifestyles. This Christmas I hope to spend time with my family, worshipping Christ and remembering the many memories of years past when little feet ran through our home in anticipation of the celebration of the birth of the Christ child.