The perfect Christmas means different things to people. For some, it comes in upholding deep-rooted family traditions; golden turkeys and creamy gravy, freshly baked cookies, or curling up to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas before bed. Perhaps to you it means time with loved ones, long drives back home just in time to trim the Christmas tree together. Or maybe it comes in finding the perfect gift, or seeing the joy in your child’s eyes as they take their first look at the piles of beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. Whatever the perfect Christmas means to us, it all seems to boil down to a few things – love, family, traditions, giving… with a sprinkle of stress and a heaping dose of money!
With childlike wonder, we all hold a vision of what we hope our Christmas will be. Increasingly, however, it seems society has a adopted the mentality of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory, “I want the works, I want the whole works! Don’t care how, I want it now!” It becomes all too easy to get lost in the pressures of finding the hottest gift, of topping every gift from last year, and to have an even bigger mound of presents under the tree than ever before – and to give into temptation to whip out that credit card and make it happen … right now!
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
The pressures continue to build as your vision of love, family time, and heartfelt giving morph into a twisted sort of commercial, consumer monster. You’ve gone through a whole tank of gas, been to countless stores, and after countless hours of shopping, you can’t stuff a single thing more into the back of the U-Haul trailer you rented just for the occasion. Your kids whine as they shuffle behind you, dragging their coats on floor in the endless checkout line … but finally, it’s your turn! In your arms you hold the gift, the one that is sure to make all the maddening nonsense worth it. Your heart pumps harder as the total amount due climbs up and up, but in your hand you hold the golden ticket — a stack of 2 for 1 coupons. With a sparkle in your eyes you hand the cashier your coupons, only receive the crushing blow that she won’t accept them. Your heart sinks as you look at the coupons and realize that, in your haste to make sure you didn’t miss the One Day Sale, you accidentally clipped off part of the expiration date, thus voiding the coupons. Without the coupons you can’t afford it, and your day and time is wasted. The gift has turned into a total pain in the rear. The excitement you experienced in finding it has quickly become frustration, and the joy in giving has been supplanted by a desperate feeling of obligation.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Sometimes we get caught up in the thinking that if we had just started saving sooner, or dipped into that Christmas bonus, or just put it all on the credit card it would wash our worries away. We would have the perfect Christmas, with the perfect gifts for the ones we love. Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, giving the best to the ones we love the most?
…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Jesus came into this world with nothing, was born into a poor family, and lived a poor man’s life. He wasn’t concerned with how much to buy in order to save us or as proof for how much He loved us. The purest love there is, the one held by a Father for his children, was bought not with credit cards, or by going into debt, or by angrily waiting in lines; it was shown by love, through blood, for our salvation. He didn’t incur debt, He paid ours … the price was His life that He willingly gave. As Christmas approaches, we can still hold onto our warm vision of Christmas and what we hope it will hold; time with family, giving, love, or family traditions. But let us not get caught up in the stresses of holiday spending that pulls us away from the true gift. The perfect gift – the gift Jesus has given to us through the ultimate sacrifice – His life, for us. Do not let money or the stress of chasing society’s ideal overshadow our true purpose — our true gift to give. The best gift to give, is sharing the love He showed us and spreading the love of our Father.
Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.