We have entered into the Christmas season full-fledged now. Lights are up, trees are up, malls are filled, chestnuts are roasting on an open fire and the weather is cold. For most of us this is a happy and joyful time. How do we view Christmas? Do we see it as a time to give? Do we look at it as a time to be more generous? According to Pew Research, 51% of Americans believe it to be a more religious holiday, 32% believe it to be more of a cultural holiday, and 9% say both/other. So, does our view of Christmas affect our response to this season?
Many expect to receive some kind of gift from a loved one, friend, neighbor or a co-worker. This is the time of year when Christmas music is heard everywhere and generally people are giving. For the most part, kids everywhere are waiting to see what they are going to get from Santa or what is under the Christmas tree, and can’t wait to open the gifts on Christmas eve or Christmas morning. For most kids this is the time when they know they will get the gift that they’ve always wanted or some version of it.
So, has Christmas become a more cultural holiday than a religious one? Is it more about giving or receiving? As a child we would take a holiday drive to Oaxaca, Mexico, to visit family. My brother, sister and I would pick out the toys we wanted to take with us on the long three-day trip. Most of the time we would take our favorite toys because we loved playing with them. After being there several weeks and it was time to leave, my parents would ask us to leave our toys with our cousins and some kids in the neighborhood. I remember not being very happy about it because they were my favorite toys. I had chosen them and loved playing with them. I would ask my father why I had to do that and he would always remind me that they did not have money to buy good toys like we did and it would be doing something nice for others. I understood that but still did not want to do it. But once I did it I felt that I had done something really good. I knew that my cousins would enjoy them very much.
In Acts 20:35 Paul tells us, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” I believe that we need to show this value to our kids today because kids these days expect to get gifts without even taking one little second to think about giving something. One of the most powerful ways as parents and as Christians to demonstrate this is by practicing this idea ourselves. This needs to be a season of giving, a season when we are willing to give kindness, sympathy, a smile, a hug, or an encouraging word. I’m not only talking about giving money or material gifts because those are many times easier to give than to give of ourselves. And the bigger challenge is to continue to give throughout the year, not only at Christmas.
The greatest gift we have ever received was from God, when He decided to give us Hope, which was Jesus, our Savior! Will you make this a season of giving this year? Will you continue it throughout the year? You are a child’s best example, what will you teach them about giving? May you all have a Merry Christmas!