I am battling this year with Christmas. This is my most favorite time of year. I love the music, the crafts, the decorations, the anticipation, the waiting, the celebration, the building of traditions… I just love it. And… another part I love is the gifts… the giving and receiving of gifts (GASP… am I allowed to say that as a Christian?).
I battle because more and more I read blog posts and status updates about downsizing Christmas and removing the materialism and ending the commercialism and craziness of Christmastime… just getting back to the real meaning… Jesus. I am not against this. I am all about keeping Christ at the center of Christmas… it is, after all… all about him. There is no getting around it… even secular TV like the Office and the Middle and other shows recognize that it is Jesus who is the reason.
Here’s my battle… here’s my two cents… Jesus should be center… in the forefront year round… right? So… what’s wrong with celebrating during this time of year… with finding the balance?
Have you read The five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? I recommend it… married or not… it is a great resource for learning more about yourself and those you are in relationships with. The basic concept is that there are five primary love languages… five basic ways in which people receive and give love… quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service… and… gasp… gifts!
My primary love language is gifts. I truly enjoy giving and receiving gifts. I love to let people know that I am thinking about them in tangible ways… whether it be a letter, email, gift, etc. In turn, I feel so special and loved when I am blessed with a gift. I have realized that it doesn’t have to be elaborate… it doesn’t have to cost anything at all really… just some token of affection. When I was little and my parents would go out of town, I would get so excited if they brought me a souveneir. When I go somewhere, I am constantly on the lookout for something to bring home to my loved ones. My husband knows that I am addicted to office supplies. I love pens, paper, paper clips, post it notes… every now and then, he’ll surprise me with a new pen. Sometimes, he’ll pick me a flower or grab me a piece of candy from the candy bowl at work. He could go to the library and check out a book for me and that would warm my heart. I love blessing our children with gifts. I have struggled for the last few years to have this love language and the budget that we have. It is so hard to see a want or desire or need of another person and not be able to do anything about it. It has forced me to rely on the Lord more and to get more creative… to give from the resources I do have… time, energy, sewing machine… etc.
How do I reconcile this desire to give and receive gifts with this move in the church to de- clutter and de- materialize Christmas? I am not saying go crazy and make the holiday all about the gifts. I just don’t understand why we have to go to one extreme or the other… why does it have to be gifts OR Jesus? Why does it have to be Christmas lights OR the nativity?
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”- Luke 11:11- 13
I don’t think that it is unBiblical to give gifts. The Bible also says it more blessed to give than to receive. We have been, because of circumstances, seminary, etc. on the receiving end of things for a time. This year, we have the opportunity to be on the giving side of things for a change … even within our own family. We don’t have the means to give our kids an allowance or buy them toys, clothes, shoes, etc at the drop of a hat… I am cool with Christmas being a time of year that we celebrate God’s greatest gift by blessing each other with gifts. We focus on Christ throughout the season and bring it all together with a celebration on Christmas… I’ll write more about our family traditions in another post.
So.. that’s my two cents for today… take it or leave it.