Not everyone loves Christmas. Even many of the puritans (whom I love and read a lot) were largely against the holiday. In 1659 Massachusetts people were fined 5 shillings for celebrating Christmas! While I am certainly pro-Christmas I do have concerns. For example, Christmas gifts.
In my opinion this is the trickiest part of celebrating Christmas. The catalogs are pouring in and the stores are packed to the hilt with toys of all kinds. My children’s eyes have grown twice their normal size, and the more they see the more they want. But it’s not just my children that are affected by all this materialism. I am lured in as well. All of a sudden I am seeing, shoes, shirts, dishes, bedding, decorations, and journals (i’m always a sucker for journals) that I wish I had.
Because of the materialism that is part and parcel with the way our culture (and our own hearts) tend to celebrate Christmas, some conclude that Christmas gifts are themselves inappropriate. I feel that, and am frustrated with all the “I want” thoughts in my own heart and in hearts of my children. But there is a better way to approach the idea of gifts.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Redeemer. Our great God humbled himself and took on human flesh in order to die for our sins. This is the greatest gift the world has ever received. But God didn’t stop there. Through Jesus he also adopts us, making us one of his children. If that wasn’t enough he has also showered us with earthly gifts. Every good thing we have here on earth is a gift from God. Parents, siblings, husband, children, friends, jobs, money, toys, homes, cars, a variety of food, vacations, the enjoyment of restaurants or a fun family movie night, decorations… the list could go on and on. God has not held back!
As people created in the image of God, redeemed by the blood of his Son, and sanctified through the work of the word and his Spirit, we are called to imitate our our God. He has loved us so we are to love others. He has sacrificed himself for us so we are to sacrifice ourselves for others. He has been generous to us and so we are to be generous to others. And Christmas is a perfect time to let this generosity be shown.
We can be generous to our children and tell them why. We can be generous to strangers and show them, through our actions, the love of God. We give gifts at Christmas because God has given us gifts, and most importantly, The Gift that saves all who believe. Of course this should characterize the Christian all year long, but at this time of year we are afforded the opportunity to pour it on in greater measure.
But let’s be sure to not only give presents to the people in our lives. Let’s present ourselves to God.
Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man – His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God – when we present our bodies a living sacrifice.
- Vance Havner
Will children struggle with greed and wanting lots of stuff? Sure, but this is where training, teaching, and being a good example come in. My hope is that as my children grow they will fully understand that gifts are not earned or deserved, but are demonstrations of grace. This places Christmas gifts and the action of giving in a more sacred light.
Christmas Controversy Part 1 (The Christian and Culture)
Christmas Controversy Part 2 ( The Christmas Tree)