For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 NASB
Ugh! It’s that time of year again… Oh no, I’m not ready for Christmas… I can’t believe it’s Christmas already… I’m still paying off credit cards from last Christmas… I just can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit… I’m broke; I can’t afford to do Christmas this year. I’ve heard all of these comments and more over the last couple of weeks. I’m sure you have, too.
Unfortunately, celebrating the birth of our Savior for some has become nothing more than drudgery and something to get through. How many times have you heard someone say at the end of December, “I’m so glad Christmas is over”? So sad, yet a reality for many.
I suppose we may feel relieved when it’s over because of the pressure to do Christmas. We must decorate…we must buy gifts…we must make a huge, expensive meal… we must be joyful, even when the pressures are just too much. Ugh!
May I suggest we take a break from all of the “musts”? May I suggest we do not place as much emphasis on the negative traditions of Christmas, and start over in celebrating in a way that truly honors the Birthday Boy?
My husband and I have decided to simplify and enjoy decorating for Christmas rather than go overboard and feel overwhelmed by it. Just that decision alone made us both feel more relaxed. We love Christmas, complete with all the decorations, but the thought of taking it all down after Christmas is what makes it drudgery. If we don’t go to the extreme and put up too much, we will enjoy it so much more. Ah…
Rather than make a huge expensive meal, we started something new last year. Since differing schedules make it difficult to actually celebrate Christmas on Christmas day or even Christmas Eve, we find a day that fits everyone’s schedule and enjoy simple appetizers and treats. If each person brings something simple to share, then the meal is less hectic and much more enjoyable for all. Fellowship and gift giving are much more enjoyable, too, because there is less stress in preparing and cleaning up after a large meal.
Gifts & Presents
The older I get, the more I ponder the idea of gift giving at Christmas. Please don’t get me wrong; I appreciate receiving gifts and love giving gifts to others, but I don’t ever want to get so caught up in the giving and receiving of gifts that I lose sight of the ultimate gift we are supposed to be celebrating. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
What are some ways we can make the giving of gifts more enjoyable, and more God honoring? The website www.worldvision.org is a good place to start. We have the opportunity to purchase things like chickens, goats, and other livestock in the name of someone else. The person whose name you give in honor of receives a note of appreciation from World Vision, which also lets them know you have purchased said gift in their name. The money you spend purchasing livestock is a gift for generations to come. When we give a gift of a goat, the family has milk everyday! When we give a gift of chickens, the family has fresh eggs everyday! I’ll stop short here of telling the whole incredible story of how our small and simple gift ripples in blessing over and over again, but I encourage you to visit the World Vision website to learn more. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Gift of Words
Can’t afford to give gifts this year? No shame in that. Most, if not all, have been in that place at least once and more than likely many times in our lives. One of my favorite things to receive at Christmas (or any time really) is something written to me by the ones I love. It costs next to nothing, but has a lasting impact. The gift of words, especially words of love and affirmation are precious. Put them in writing and you have a gift that will last forever. Wouldn’t your friends and family love to know how you truly feel about them? Let’s say your family does not have enough funds for Christmas gifts this year. What if each of you wrote letters of appreciation to one another and read them aloud on Christmas morning? Sounds like a great tradition to start, whether there are store bought gifts or not. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
Another favorite gift is the gift of goodies. How about baking some of your favorite cookies and create cookie gift baskets for those you still want to give a gift to? When my son was young and I could not afford much, we would bake several types of cookies and wrap them in a paper plate with colored saran wrap. Inexpensive, but yummy! Each person we gave the cookies to truly seemed happy to receive them. As an added bonus, many said it took the pressure off of having to bake for their families. Yay!
Since most of us have enough doo-dads and trinkets to dust already and probably enough sweaters and socks, I’m thinking a basket of goodies or a handwritten note of prayer or encouragement will be a welcome departure from the norm.
Sharing Christ’s Love
I believe with all my heart that Jesus feels celebrated when we show Christian love to those less fortunate than we are. “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” Matthew 25:40.
Whether giving to a homeless shelter, donating to World Vision or other such organizations, or buying gifts for the Angel Tree program at church, we can know we are showing Christ’s love and saying happy birthday to Jesus when we give to and serve others.
Father God, thank You for the gift of Your Son and for the opportunity to tell Him happy birthday by showing love and compassion to others. I ask, dear Lord, for all of us to be able to celebrate this Christmas with a fresh perspective and less pressure to do Christmas, but to experience Christmas afresh as a true celebration of the birth of our Savior. In the matchless name of Jesus, amen.
Happy birthday, Jesus! I love you!