How to Focus on Christmas: Part 2

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Last week, I talked about how I need to concentrate on Christmas, so that I don't get swept up in the commercial side of it all.

Well, as it turns out, much of the "commercial" side of Christmas is rooted in Christ. Yes, even that word, Xmas, is not just the "x-ing out" of Christ. It all goes back to Him. I've discovered this, and much more, in a book my parents gave me six Christmases ago:


Ace Collins has helped me realize that I don't need to stress about celebrating the "secular" side of Christmas; I just need to understand (and then communicate to my children) the spiritual roots of everything we are doing. In his introduction he writes, "Those who bemoan the lack of religious zeal in modern Christmases would have been appalled at the way people in early America celebrated the day. For a majority of people who embraced Christmas throughout history, Christ wasn't a part of the day at all. In most of the world, especially in England and America, Christmas was not a time of worship, prayer, and reflection; rather it was a day set aside to sing bawdy songs, drink rum, and riot in the streets."

Really?

"Perhaps ironically . . . with the commercialization of Christmas, those living in American and England finally got a chance to experience the real meaning of Christmas. Santa put an end to the drunk riots and brought peace to the season, and this allowed millions to reflect on the peace offered by the babe's birth in a manger."

Wow.

Talk about taking a load off my mind. I don't have to hold Santa on one side of the scale and Jesus on the other, figuring out a way to make sure Jesus weighs more. No. With a little understanding, I can show my children how it all - the gift giving, the caroling, the tree, the lights, the mistletoe - it ALL goes back to Jesus, and the beautiful story of his life.

In that regard, we've discovered a sweet book as a family this season:


It is helping us count down to Jesus's birth, with daily stories of animals following a star. Benjamin Bear's mother tells him these stories each night, as he is anxiously counting down to Christmas morning. He is excited about presents, as most children are, but his mother does not squash that childish instinct. Instead, she nurtures it with stories about the greatest gift God has ever given.

These books have helped me realize that I can do the same thing. When gifts seem to take center stage, I don't have to stress about how we have lost our focus; I can redirect. I can give gifts, and remember how the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus. I can receive gifts, and think about God's gift of grace to me. I can talk about Santa bringing presents to children around the world, and how that relates to Jesus loving every single one of us. I can drop money in the bell ringer's can, and tell my kids how we are instructed to help the poor.

As a Christian, I am free to celebrate Christmas because the "commercial" side and "spiritual" side of Christmas are not necessarily mutually exclusive. What a relief.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever struggled with the balancing of Santa and Jesus?

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5 Responses to “How to Focus on Christmas: Part 2”

  1. I definitely struggle with the balance - since all my memories revolve around Santa and not Jesus. But you make a great point - if we are intentional about teaching our children about Jesus, He's always going to come out weighing more than Santa (and not because He's eaten too many Christmas cookies - grin).

    Definitely something I'll continue praying over.

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  2. We are still working on our own traditions but we don't really do Santa so to speak. We are trying celebrating St. Nicholas day (today) and using it as a tool to teach about St. Nic and how he gave freely from His love for Christ. Our children will receive gifts from us and we are going to bring hot chocolate to some bell ringers in the area as a way to serve. We are trying this partly to allow Christmas to be a little more centered on Christ and my older son's birthday (which is on Christmas day). We'll see how it goes!

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  3. Love. This. So often, I think Christians look at life from an either/or perspective when it really is both/and. I like what you're doing to re-direct your activities and conversations toward Christ being the center of everything that is good, even in the tokens of love we give one another. Well done!

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  4. Thanks, Nancy. It has helped me so much to eliminate that "either/or" perspective this season. It opens up so many avenues for conversation about loving others and what the Christmas season is really about.

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  5. Megan - What a great idea. How did your St. Nicholas day celebration go? My oldest son's birthday is on 12/29, so I know what it is like to have one close to Christmas. I actually have a brother in law with a 12/25 birthday, and my MIL always makes a big deal out of his birthday cake and dinner for him on Christmas night. It is hard to combine two celebrations like that, but how special to share a birthday with Jesus!

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