Christmas is coming. Not even 3 weeks away now.
I often struggle with Christmas a bit. Not because I don’t like it; I love the decorations, the excitement and anticipation, the music, the time with family and friends, the food, the fun…and yes, I kind of like presents, too.
Which is where my struggle lies.
Sometimes I feel like a bad Christian when I say I like presents.
The reality is, I don’t have much money at this point in my life. New things are fairly rare for me. Last week I spent $5 on 2 pairs of Christmas socks and had quite the mental debate over whether or not I should have purchased them (I did, and wore a pair today). Christmas only comes once a year, and it’s about the only time I get any measurable amount of new things. But to say I get them guilt-free? No.
Because although I like getting new things, I know that’s not the point of Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried more and more to be intentional about focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not only a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but also a hopeful longing for when he returns, when the brokenness will be over and all will be as it should.
How do I reconcile these seemingly conflicting sides of me? The side that appreciates and enjoys new things, and the side that wants to focus on what Christmas is really supposed to be about?
If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Until I find a perfect solution, I’m working towards an imperfect one. The past few years I’ve included something on the Christmas list I give my parents that’s not for me. There are so many organizations, from ones in my own city to those across the globe, that do so much good in our world; so I ask for a donation to be made to one of them as one of my gifts.
Whatever you do, please don’t think I’m telling you this to brag. The not-so-pretty truth is that yes, I’ve done this, but not entirely wholeheartedly. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe I’d get another movie, sweater, or book if I didn’t request some of the money be given elsewhere. In the past I’ve asked for TOMS; so yes, I still get a gift, but a child receives a pair of shoes in the process.
Is it a perfect way to keep the focus of Christmas where it belongs? No. If I were truly selfless, I’d ask for no gifts for myself, and instead of giving generic gifts to relatives and friends, maybe I’d make sure I purchase ones that support various organizations. Even when I’m in a different spot financially though, and able to feel less guilty about buying such things as Christmas socks, I don’t know that I’ll request no presents for myself. Maybe; but maybe not.
So here I sit, in the tension of first world Christmas, feeling kind of like a bad Christian for liking presents, but not feeling selfless enough to give them all up.
Do you ever struggle with wanting new things at Christmas and trying to keep the focus where it belongs? How do you keep the focus of Christmas where it should be–on Jesus?
Til next time…