It’s the most wonderful time of the year. As a child, Christmas means one thing: presents. Of course there are a lot of exciting festivities surrounding the presents, but ripping the paper off a new Xbox is really the main event. Society has taken the holy concept of celebrating our Savior’s birth and reformed it into a celebration of greed laden with irony. At what point did people start to make Christmas less about Jesus and more about us? I’m not here to point fingers, nor will I assert that I am not guilty of going about Christmas the wrong way, but maybe it would be worth-while to rethink one of our favorite holidays.
According to ABC News, each year, Americans spend approximately $465 billion on Christmas. All that money is for Jesus, right? Giving gifts is not intrinsically bad, but it becomes a problem when we take advantage of one of the most glorious events in human history as an excuse to cultivate our lust for material things. Not only is it wasteful and greedy to make Christmas so focused on ourselves and our free stuff, but it also sends a controversial message.
Scripture is pretty clear on these two things among others. Avarice is bad, and Jesus is good. If this is true, and Christians seek to adhere to the Word of God, then why do Christians see Christmas as a chance to glorify avarice and subdue the gospel. Obviously, no one actually enters the holiday season with such malicious intent, but if someone who had never heard of Christmas saw the way we go about celebrating the birth of Jesus, he or she would likely be overwhelmed and confused.
I am not suggesting that we stop giving gifts or going to sit on Santa’s lap, but perhaps we could consider a more modest holiday. Can you imagine the positive impact that $465 billion could have if it were devoted to charitable causes? If we’re not careful, children will be more enticed by Santa’s offer of a Red Ryder BB gun than Jesus’ offer of salvation.
The importance of approaching the Christmas season with the right attitude and heart cannot be underestimated, and this is an area where many of us need to reconsider our favorite holiday, but there is still a lot of good left in Christmas. While we often over-do it, gift giving is at its core a very beautiful, selfless thing.
In addition to the generosity we often express toward our family and friends during the holidays, Christmas also encourages a lot of generosity focused towards people in need. I’m not just talking about the Salvation Army guy ringing his bell outside Target. A lot of soup kitchens, shelters and the like make an extra effort to be generous during Christmas. With so much extra joy to go around during the holidays, people are often more willing to seek out opportunities to help others.
Furthermore, Christmas also encourages unparalleled family bonding time. Late December is one of the busiest travelling times of the year for a reason. People are willing to put forth a lot of energy, time and money to be with family during this special time. Families come together from all across the country and even the world to celebrate the birth of a savior with praise and generosity.
Clearly, the concept of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but it is far too easy to twist things around and make the holidays about us. If Christians really made an effort to approach Christmas with a selfless attitude, the impact could be enormous. Christmas is still a season centered around hope, and I have not lost hope for what remains my favorite holiday, but I am confident that Christmas could improve tremendously with a shift in thinking. By turning our focus away from ourselves and towards the real reason for Christmas, we can transform a time of greed into a true celebration of Jesus.