It was never meant to be about clever marketing and fad items...giving just for the sake of giving...or raising our kids expecting to receive...oh goodness!
It breaks my heart to see people, out of work, out of money, and still scraping together EVERYTHING they can to "give their kids a good Christmas"....they'll not have adequate food on their table, but there will be gifts from Santa under the tree.
I can almost see Saint Nicholas rolling over in his grave...this is not what he intended either. Stand up people!! Find your spiritual backbone!
OK - so I'm a Christmas nut - but before you write me off you have to know the journey He took me on...from a spoiled So Cal girl that grew up in a house where it was ok to lie (starting with Santa), to a broken hearted, wounded life young adult that discovered the TRUE meaning of Christmas as the little church down the roads steeple bells pealed carols at midnight on Christmas Eve. It hit me then - Christmas was all about Jesus. ALL about Jesus. All ABOUT Jesus. PERIOD.
And through raising kids; arguing with grandparents about why it's ok to "not do Santa" (we'd rather the kids know that the gifts were from you...than to lie to them...), through teaching the kids that it's ok for others to "do Santa" (we respect you and trust you with the truth, and in a few years they will know the truth too, but it's not up to you to tell them), to realizing that others may not have those same convictions, and trusting God to allow the kids (and their now spouses) to set their own holiday traditions (so far no one is "doing Santa").
Isn't Jesus' birth ENOUGH reason to celebrate??
BE INTENTIONAL - in how you prepare for the season, how you spend the day, who you spend the day with! Put a plan together and stick to it!! Don't give in! If gift giving must be a part of it (and that's not all together wrong - just keep it in budget and in control ) then make it intentional, draw names if there's a group of people coming, or do a "white elephant" gift drawing - or something more community minded (please bring $20 - or canned food - or whatever - to donate to our local church/charity/foodbank to celebrate the birth of our Savior).
Start something new, and BIG!! We get caught up in the lights, commercials, newer/bigger/better THINGS that are saved to reveal in this season. We're suckers. Recognize the fact that we are sucked into the lies of society that we deserve all this stuff, that we need it, that anyone else needs it, that it determines our worth and tells others what we think of them. IT'S WRONG that we are so emotionally tied to this whole gift thing. Most will go into debt to "prove" our love for someone else - why?? We'll dig ourselves out all year long to get our debt into line to do it again next year....so not worth it. For a fraction of the cost, we can provide clean drinking water for a village all year long...for several years! Check out The Advent Conspiracy , or join in with others to adopt a Compassion International child for the year, or commit to a local giving opportunity.
The whole idea is to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Think out of the box. Start a NEW trend in Christmas gifting.
Some of our favorite things over the years have been: baking cookies/treats for friends, serving at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day, preparing food and serving/delivering for Meals on Wheels on Christmas Day, inviting International Students into our home for their first real Christmas, having a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party with cake and ice cream, giving unexpected gifts to people we didn't know well - just to bless them, sharing our home with people who didn't have family (or many friends) to share the day with....
I'm sure that it will look special and different in your home, but it has to start with you. Pray about it!! Rarely, if EVER, have I heard someone say "Oh, I prayed about it, and Jesus told me to spend lots of money, go into debt and buy my family/extended family/friends TONS of junk!!" Nah. It's not going to happen. Seek His heart and His will for this Christmas Season. It IS, after all, ALL ABOUT HIM.
OK. I'll get off my soapbox now.
Happy Birthday Jesus!!