This year I announced I wanted to shake Christmas up a bit and not participate in gift giving every where we went. It was not that I wanted to be a scrooge and withhold gifts from other children, it was that I wanted to teach my OWN children that Christmas is about something much more important than getting presents every time they turned around. And let’s face it, we cannot buy other children presents but tell their parents NOT to buy us anything.
I wanted to teach my children the value of just gathering with family around a meal and enjoy spending time together. I wanted them to learn the joy of thinking of other people, of visiting great-grandparents and giving them a gift to show our love and appreciation for them. Without. Expecting. Anything. In. Return.
When I mentioned this to a few people, I got an old-fashioned chewing out. I was accused of cruelty, greed and selfishness. I was told that children expected gifts at Christmas and to deny them that was taking away something special. “Children need that fantasy and excitement”, I was told.
Let me explain by adding that we have never taught Santa in our home. Beauty knows who he “is” of course-she DOES live in America and we do let her out of the house on occasion - but we’ve never told her her presents on Christmas day were from Santa or that he delivered them on Christmas Eve. Now you may see why I was accused of “robbing” my “children of the joy of Christmas”. I mean, first no Santa and now no gifts from people she sees but once a year? You get the picture.
While I conceded to keeping with tradition, to keep the peace in the family, I still must shake my head at the craziness of it all.
It is amazing to me how people will fight tooth and nail to uphold a lie to their children, claiming it makes Christmas "special" for their children-when the real reason of Christmas (God coming in the flesh to redeem the world) seems pretty doggone special to me. In fact, there is nothing more special.
When dealing with nonbelievers, I expect such an attitude. But when dealing with self-professing Christians, I am highly disappointed. It saddens me to think that the same people who throw a big stink about saying “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” are really no different than the rest of the world when it comes to the ultimate emphasis of the holiday. When presented with two conflicting ideologies of December 25th, which is the one children are going to be more excited about? Everyone loves receiving gifts. Children are no different; and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong that. BUT, no matter how much we talk about the nativity, or participate in Advent or attend services, Santa is the REAL reason children love Christmas. How can a baby born in something called a stable over 2000 years ago compete with a jolly grandfatherly-type who brings them presents while they are asleep? And then eventually, when reaching a certain age, they discover that whole thing was just a big sham. A deception. And one they are willing to pass on to their own children….because why? Because that’s what we do and really, what was the harm? We didn’t grow dysfunctional because we learned the truth. Right?
Well, God tells us to love Him above all things and that He is a jealous God-meaning, He wants our full devotion (remember El Qanna?) Do we really think He is okay with sharing Christmas with a pagan character? How does He feel hearing us say that children need Santa in order for Christmas to be special? We were separated from God by our sin, with NO HOPE of ever redeeming ourselves, so He sent Jesus (Himself in the flesh) to the earth to bridge the gap. He left His kingdom on high to live the life of a man, though sinless and pure, and die a ghastly and painful death as punishment for crimes He did not commit. He bore our sins, and their punishment, Himself because He loved us so much. This is the best news of all time! How can anything be more special than that?
Quite simply, at the mention of Christmas, I want my children’s first thoughts to be of a Baby in a manger, and why He was there. I want them to understand why we DO participate in gift giving among ourselves-to share God’s love and show appreciation for one another in celebration of the birth of the Savior. Our primary focus is to be on Christ, then others; and ourselves shouldn’t even enter the picture beyond what Christ has done for us.
Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you. 2 Corinthians 6:17
You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:4-6
30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. Mark 12:30
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! Luke 2:10-13
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Luke 2:17-20 ( Sounds like a pretty exciting and special time for the shepherds, huh?)
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
Again, I ask, What can be more exciting and special than THAT?!
Soli Deo Gloria and Maranatha!