I love Christmas. I love the trees, the lights (though I am looking for lights not made in a sweat shop), the smell of pine, the cookies and the silly movies. I love spending time with family, and I love singing Christmas songs. (O Holy Night is my favorite). What I don’t like is the gift giving.
The American habit of giving too much, particularly to children, is profane. Many do use the excuse of Christmas to buy the things people need – clothes, a replacement item, or a needed tool. I can handle that. Even giving one special gift is welcome and can have great meaning. But for the most part Christmas is consumerism at its worst. I get a bit nauseous Christmas morning when I see children – even children I love and am related to – going from one gift to another with little consideration for any of it, or worse, thinking that they are entitled to such abundance.
In years past, I asked my family for gifts that I could distribute. One year it was trial size deodorant that was particularly needed in the homeless shelter I volunteered at. Thankfully, and to my great delight, my family accommodated this request. Truly I was over the moon about it and felt like I had been given the world.
That is was Christmas should be about: giving gifts that are passed on or shared with others. After all, the entire reason we celebrate is to acknowledge the coming of God as Man in order to reestablish a broken relationship. Shouldn’t that be what we give each year, an opportunity to heal broken relationships?
Whether the gift is tangible, like deodorant, or something more personal like time spent over a meal with a new friend, we should aim to give far more than we receive. A family that is consciously planning to give to others is a far more joyous thing than children rifling through unwanted presents.
This year, I’m trying to think of a way to draw my family into the spirit of giving to others. How can we work together to share our abundance? I don’t have many answers yet, especially since Christmas won’t be spent in my neighborhood where I know how to naturally engage in community. However, I am committed to changing the focus this year, not just for me but for all of us. I don’t expect the change to happen in a moment, but little by little, year after year, I hope to change the focus from consuming to relating and sharing.
How will you change your Christmas?
For ideas on making a strategic change, visit Advent Conspiracy.