nothing says Christmas…

Sam and I have an ironic saying we toss around frequently this time of year, when we see something that feels a little off from what the season is about.  One of us will turn to the other and say, “Nothing says ‘Let’s celebrate the birth of our Savior like…” and then finish the sentence with whatever we have noticed.  Some recent entries:

Nothing says “Let’s celebrate the birth of our Savior” like:
An overpriced luxury car with a big bow on top
Sexy girls in Santa Claus miniskirt outfits
Diamonds  (You’re a BAD husband, boyfriend, dad, male of any kind if you don’t buy diamonds for Christmas.)
The billboards for whiskey that say ‘Tis the Season
Santa on a motorcycle, doing the hula, singing Elvis songs, running over people with reindeer, or (I kid you not) a 12’ inflatable Santa in an outhouse on a front lawn.  The outhouse was part of the inflatable.  The door opened and Santa peeked out from a … seated position.

Nothing says “Let’s celebrate the birth of our Savior” like elbowing through crowds to try to buy gifts that we’ll be paying for till June.  Or filling the days with so many “to-do’s” that the Christmas season becomes the most highly stressful time of year.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not someone who thinks that Christmas should be entirely spiritual, that gifts and decorations and celebrations should be eliminated altogether. I love Christmas.  I just find it curious the things that have attached themselves to the holiday.  Kind of like Easter.  How did the bunny and the eggs get in there?  Jesus rose from the dead. Did someone say,  “I know – let’s get a big bunny to hop all over and drop eggs!  That will help people remember, because somebody rising from the dead isn’t so memorable by itself”?

I do love giving gifts.  It’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  I hate getting stressed with last-minute shopping and I hate the feeling that my gift has to be at a certain level to be good enough.  One of the blessings that has come from the change in our financial status this year is a total freedom from that.  Everyone knows we just plain can’t give gifts at a “certain level” so there’s no pressure there.  Many of my gifts this year are homemade, and I am excited about them.  Every gift is something meaningful.

Family is another favorite part of Christmas.  It truly would not be Christmas for me if I couldn’t be with my family.  Today I heard a friend tell that he spent every Christmas alone for many years, and that just broke my heart.  I think it made me sadder than it made him, or at least sadder than he let on.  I just can’t even imagine Christmas alone, but yet many people are alone right now and facing a sad and lonely Christmas.

So, if all of those silly things like cars and diamonds and hula dancing, outhouse-sitting Santas are not my idea of meaningful ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus, what is?

To me, nothing says Christmas like donating a coat to a homeless shelter.  Walk outside on a December day and pull your coat tight to keep the wind out.  Then imagine not having a coat at all.  Last year we donated a garbage bag full and you know what?  Our closet is still full.  And there are only two of us.

Nothing says Christmas like providing a meal to those who are hungry.  Most shelters, soup kitchens and missions have food pantries and also take donations which make more meals per dollar than I ever could, and feed those much hungrier than I’ve ever been.  Or sponsor a child who has nothing, for the cost of a soda once a day.

Nothing says Christmas like taking the time to tell your family that you love them.  Really tell them, and tell them why.  Appreciate the little things.  Be quick to notice the kindnesses, be slow to be offended by the human weaknesses.  Realize that this truly could be the last Christmas you are all together.  Any Christmas could.  That was a lesson I learned and learned very deeply last year when I had to tell my family that I had cancer on Christmas.

Nothing says Christmas like stopping to remember, really remember, why we have Christmas.  Tell your children and grandchildren the story, but not just a “story”.  Tell them the wonder of grace and forgiveness.  If you don’t know this miracle yourself, now is the perfect time to find out.  Because that, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is all about.

(If you don’t know if you have this miracle of grace and forgiveness in your life – click here and read God’s simple plan for you.  It’s so much easier than we try to make it!)  http://www.ccci.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally/index.htm

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