We have a great girlfriend devotional today. Please take a few moments to check it out.
While I'm stopped for a few minutes, I would like to thank all of you who follow my blog for following. I know I haven't posted much...at least not as much as I would like. Life got busy - both personally and professionally.
Since October or so, I have come in contact with a couple of people who vehemently opposed associating Santa Claus with Christmas. One family comes from Switzerland where the entire tradition of Saint Nicholas originated (in Germany actually) and so they follow a different tradition. But something just kept hitting me whenever I talked to these couple of families. They were talking about the commercialism and how the gift giving tradition really has nothing to do with Jesus' birth. As with many traditions I have found out, we have applied Christian principles to things like the candy cane and the gift giving that originally had nothing to do with the Christmas story or the reason the tradition started in the first place.
I have also struggled with the Christmas spirit for the last couple of years. The music is my favourite part of Christmas, but I also have a very giving spirit. I love participating in Operation Christmas Child. Every year our church sponsors a family for Christmas, so I enjoy picking up a couple of things and helping out in other practical ways.
I had always done Operation Christmas Child up until two years ago. We had just bought a new house and really did not have the money. So out of necessity, I didn't do a box and I felt bad and guilty for not doing one. The same thing happened the next year. Understand that no one placed this guilt or sadness on me but me.
This year, my decision was by choice. We still didn't have very much money, but I had grown a lot with the Lord over the past year and started to see Christmas much differently. I know my enjoyment of Christmas shouldn't be dictated by what I can and can't give. All God asks is that I do what I can. I had learned where to find joy in the Christmas season where I had struggled to find it before. I realized the joy to me wasn't in receiving gifts, it was in giving. So I turned the focus from me, to those I would give to and the love of those who would give to me.
All this is leading up to a revelation for me - I wouldn't change Christmas for anything. No, Santa Claus really has absolutely nothing to do with the coming of Christ...but it's one heck of a blast! And I wouldn't change it for anything. Christmas has always been the highlight of my year. As I grew older and more mature as a Christian, it took on a different meaning. But I believe in a world that doesn't believe in hope and happiness and seems warmongering and chaotic for most of the year, Christmas - no matter how you celebrate it - is a time to slow down and enjoy one's family and, yes, have a little fun.
We can do Christmas with the presents, I believe, so long as we recognize that they really have nothing to do with Christ's birth. It's so easy to become greedy. I want this. I want that. I'm constantly amazed at what commercials tell us that we need. New Blackberries and flat screen TVs that we put on credit and new car also bought on credit. Let's keep it fun. No one really needs these things. But it's so easy to get caught up in it.
I have found since I've changed my focus off me and on to giving to my husband and children and family, the greed just hasn't been there.
But while I would encourage people reading this to perhaps change their focus on the present issue - I wouldn't eliminate it. When I think of those families I know that don't do Santa Claus at Christmas - I know it would leave a huge hole of enjoyment and fun out of my life and I wonder if they ever wonder what they're missing. The thought occurred to me that perhaps this is what the Bible talks about when it says to be "in the world but not of it". Because of that, I believe everything we do as Christians needs to have a different perspective.
I know I have found a different perspective this year and I'm so grateful for it. For the first Christmas in years, I have reconnected with the joy of Christmas - in a new way. It comes with being content with what I have, working hard to provide for my family and recognizing those things during this season that bring me the most joy. I know now that my "human" heart has been satisfied, that I can focus my heart on worshipping the baby Jesus. I'm now free and not bound by guilt or jealousy or greed.
Perhaps it's because I have a baby of my own that I can really identify with the baby Jesus and the joy he brought to Mary. We sang a song in our Christmas play this year called "Come to Deliver Me" and it talks about all the baby attributes of Jesus - "Your tiny hands set the stars in the heavens, your cry brought day from the night. Your tender eyes saw the dawn of creation. Your fragile breath gave me life." We sing another song that has the phrase "the Father's love wrapped in a baby". I know this last one the song is talking about Jesus, but I truly see God's love wrapped in a baby every moment I look at Brent. And because I have Brent in my arms now I can really identify with the miracle of Jesus coming to earth as a baby.
Anyway...this has been something on my heart for a while and I promised myself that I would post it in time for Christmas. I hope it will help you find a new perspective on Christmas and all that we do.
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