I was listening to the radio the other day when the announcer begins to tell the story of a family who had decided there would be no Christmas for their children. The children had been naughty, so all of the presents were going to be returned. They were taking away Christmas.
There were lots of details about this story that were not shared. I don’t know the ages of the children or the behavior that caused this response. I don’t know if they were taking away all celebration of Christmas or just presents. I don’t know if Christmas is a religious holiday for them.
All of this did make me reflect on what I would do. When the boys were young, I did threaten to take away presents. It’s a threat that goes straight to the heart of children and goes a long way to correct behavior. But, what message does that send if we treat Christmas as something we can take away? Then, what does Christmas mean?
I long for the days when Christmas was more about Christ and less about receiving gifts. I’m as guilty as the next person. I love buying the presents and thinking about what might be under the tree for me. I can get totally caught up in the ads in the paper and shopping for the perfect bargain. I encourage my kids to make their lists, so we know what they want under the tree. A few years ago our family made a conscious effort to focus Christmas on the giving rather than the receiving. Why haven’t we maintained that focus?
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
We have received the ultimate gift – Christ. It’s a gift we can’t repay, but we can try. That’s what Christmas is about. We are celebrating a gift so large that the only thing we can do with it is share it. It’s too big to keep to ourselves. What would this world be like, or simpler yet, my life be like if I focused it on sharing the gift of Christ? What if my focus was sharing love, grace and mercy?
What would I do, today, with naughty children who don’t deserve their presents? I would turn Christmas into a giving Christmas. I would take my kids to Feed My Starving Children. I would take them to work at the food shelf. I would take them to serve at a homeless shelter. We would go sing carols at the local care center. We would shovel the neighbors driveway. We would bring a meal to a family in need. We would buy toys for those who would go without this season. We would buy gift cards for the local store and hand them out, randomly. Wait, maybe we should do this regardless. This sounds fun. There is no “holiday stress” in this kind of Christmas. Joy is building thinking about this kind of Christmas. So, yes let’s take away Christmas. Let’s replace it with a giving, grace and love filled Christmas that honors the one who gave us the first and greatest gift.
Will you join me? Leave a comment and let me know how you are giving this season.