About a year or so ago, I read a blog post that I found on Pinterest. I can't remember the source (I tried to find it again), or much about the article other than one thing: The mother who wrote the post and her husband celebrated Christmas a little differently than most. They focused on the fact that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, not someone else's. So instead of spoiling their kids with dozens of gifts, each child got just a couple of presents. Nothing big. But on each child's birthday, the child was spoiled...like many children are on Christmas. I grew up like most children probably did; I got a lot more presents at Christmastime than on my birthday. But when you stop to think about it, it just doesn't make that much sense. Which is exactly how the pastor at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio felt and he gave a pretty crazy challenge to his congregation one year for Christmas:
To me, that is the real meaning of Christmas. We should be giving gifts to Jesus, not to each other. Because last I checked, I did not overcome sin, die on a cross to save mankind, and then raise from the dead and return to Heaven to live with my Father. People get so greedy during Christmas, and I'll admit that I sometimes get a little too excited about all of the gift giving and receiving possibilities as well. But that means we are so missing the point.
After I read the blog post I mentioned at the beginning of this post it just clicked with me and made so much sense. I was excited to share the idea with some of my Christian friends thinking that they would find the idea downright genius as well. But when I did they did not share the same amount of enthusiasm. I could tell they were responding nicely, a lot of nods and half smiles. To be honest I was really surprised and pretty disappointed.
As Christians we are to be separate from this world and realize that all material things will go to waste. We should be more concerned about laying up treasure for eternity, not laying treasure under the Christmas tree. (Not to mention, wouldn't it be nice to disperse the expense of Christmas throughout the year on each child's birthday instead of all at once in December?) When we get too caught up in gifts, especially gift receiving, we are blending into the world.
When Michael and I begin our family I hope we can teach our children to be content and to not expect much on Jesus' birthday since it has nothing to do with them -- Other than the fact that humanity's sin was the reason that Jesus had to come in the first place. Which should humble us even more and make us feel unworthy of gifts during this season, and that much more thankful when we do receive one. It should also compel us to do even more to glorify Jesus in this season.
To keep Jesus as the center of Christmas here are a couple ideas you can do with your family (some are ideas I came up with, some are ideas I've seen floating around Pinterest)
- Have an advent calendar where you do anonymous good deeds because you're not doing them for your own glory, but for Christ's glory
- Put an emphasis on Christmas songs and movies that emphasize Jesus
- Hang a stocking up for Jesus, every time you or your child does something nice write it down and put it in the stocking. On Christmas morning read all of the "gifts" you gave to Jesus
- Instead of reading The Night Before Christmas, read the story of Jesus' birth in the Bible
- Volunteer to help the less fortunate, or "adopt a family"
I personally do not like the idea of telling your children about Santa Claus because when they do find out the truth, they may feel lied to. Especially if you are raising them in a Christian home and always encouraging them to tell the truth. Secondly, it teaches children to ask Santa for things, when in reality Santa provides nothing. God is the provider of all things and to teach children differently makes me get an uneasy feeling in my stomach. And finally, having your children believe in Santa does not separate them from the world; it makes them a part of it.
I realize my personal view may be extreme for some, so if you do choose to incorporate Santa into your family's Christmas, do so in a way that still brings ALL of the glory to God and His Son! Teach your children to thank God for the presents they receive and not Santa. But let me just tell you that based on the children I know who were not told about Santa, they don't feel like they are missing out on anything and they are very respectful to other children who do believe in Santa by not spoiling the surprise.
All in all, I just want to make much of Jesus during the Christmas season and even less of me.