Twas the Night Before Christmas… Bah Hum Bug or Amen
“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse….” Yeah, right! Not in this lifetime! Should read: “Twas the busy night before Christmas, and all through the country side and in every city, the meaning of Christmas is lost, oh what a pity!”
To me, it is unfortunate that we can get so caught up in the “hustle and bustle” of the holidays we forget what the holidays are really about: The worship and honoring of our Lord and Savior; spending time with family and friends; and helping others. Instead, what we end up having are mini melt downs because we are so stressed over buying just the right presents; getting the decorating just so; and trying to find the time to keep up with all the events we have committed to! Then after Christmas we begin to clean up from all the holiday cheer and spend the next twelve months digging ourselves out of the debt we have gotten ourselves into. Somehow I don’t think that is what Christmas is really supposed to be about.
When I was in college, I had a professor who called our holidays “Festivals of Consumption”. He went onto explain that occasions which were once sincere expressions of honor, faith and gratitude have now been turned into frenzied commercialized marketing events. He further conjectured that some of our “newer” holidays are nothing more than trumped up marketing tools aimed at emptying our pocket books. For the most part, I agree with him. Think about it… How much are our spending practices are driven by what we see on TV? How many times do parents put themselves in debt to buy their child the must have toy or gadget, only to have him lose interest in it before the first credit card payment? And lastly, how many of us are sooooo glad the holidays are over because we are exhausted from all the extra work and self-induced stress? Stop the madness! Yes, I said it: “Stop the madness!” It is up to us to get off the shallow, commercialized, keep up with the Joneses, holiday merry-go-round! But how?
For me, there is only one way to get back to the real meaning of Christmas: We have to take control of how we celebrate the season. What is important to our family? What is really honoring God? WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) The following are some tools that may help:
- Before the holidays, prayerfully sit down and plan the family calendar. We will not die and go to hell if we tell someone “NO” we cannot participate in some event.
- Before the holidays, plan a realistic budget. If we don’t have it. We don’t spend it! I know we all want the best for our families and friends, but we need to realize the “best” is never found tied up in a bow. The “best” is found in the nurturing of our relationships by spending quality time with each other. It takes some thought and even a little research, but there are many “gifts” which can be made or bought for very little.
- Sit down as a family and decide what “traditions” are important. Cut out the ones that aren’t. If need be, make new traditions that display your personal values. For example, I have several acquaintances who spend their Christmas Day out in the community taking food and remembrances to those in need. All of us need to ask ourselves, “What do we want to pass onto the next generation?” “What will our kids look back and say about our holiday celebrations?”
- Most importantly, what will glorify Jesus? How can we honor His birth? How can we show His love to others? We MUST not leave out this aspect of Christmas. Part of properly celebrating this season is putting Jesus back in the center of it! So, part of our holiday planning has to include sharing His love to others. We can do this monetarily; by giving time; and by using our God given talents. Whatever we do, we need to remember that the most important gift we can give is simply “us”.
If we don’t want the Grinch to steal Christmas this year, we have to fight. And the way we fight is by putting Christ first in every aspect of our holiday celebrations. If Christ is the center; if we are seeking His direction; if we choose to NOT follow the crowd, our night before Christmas may sound like this: Twas the night before Christmas and all through the towns, people are praising Jesus, for His love has been found. No one is hurrying, with horrendous schedules to meet, instead people are choosing to spend time with each other as they sit at His feet.
May your holidays be blessed! #putting Christ back into Christmas