I recently got a promotional email designed to entice me into buying something. The subject of it was "Home is where the gifts are."
I love Christmas. I love that it reminds us that Christ humbled Himself to become human and live among us. I love celebrating what Christ did for us.
I hate what we have turned Christmas into.
Instead of celebrating the birth of Christ, we are celebrating a retail holiday. People go out and spend entirely too much money (money they don't even have and end up going into debt) to buy presents for people that already have everything. They buy gifts for people they don't even like. Gifts that are probably going to be either returned, or thrown into a closet and forgotten about.
I watch kids open their Christmas presents, and after they open one, they toss it aside and ask for the next one. Is this really what you want to teach your kids that Christams is about?
I choose not to participate in the retail side of Christmas. I don't buy Christmas gifts.
I know people think it's because we don't have a lot of money, but it's not a money issue. If we had tons of money, I still wouldn't buy Christmas gifts.
I would much rather spend Christmas celebrating Christ with my family. Doing something nice for someone else. Spending the money I would have spent on gifts, giving to someone who has nothing.
If I find something during the year that makes me think of someone, I'll buy it for them. That has a lot more significance than buying something out of an obligation.
I know many people enjoy giving, they get as much out of it or more by giving someone a gift as the person receiving the gift. I recognize that God gave at Christmas. He gave us the gift of His only Son. And if that is the true spirit that you have behind giving Christmas gifts, then keep doing it.
But most people are buying out of obligation. Then the receiver feels obligated to give back, and feels bad if they can't.
If there's no occasion, it's just a gift of love. I can give my friend a gift in January and say "I saw this and thought of you" and there are no strings attached. My friend feels honored that I thought of her, and has no obligation to give me anything back. However, if I give that same gift at Christmas, it is a gift because of an occasion, not a reflection of our relationship. She also feels obligated to give me a gift back.
A couple years ago, my family decided to do something nice for someone else. Then when we got together for Christmas, instead of exchanging gifts, we exchanged the stories of what we did. It was the most memorable Christmas I've ever had. I remember very few gifts I have received over the years, but I remember sharing those stories.
So for Christmas, instead of buying gifts, I will be celebrating the birth of my Savior. I will be looking for opportunities to bless other people that don't involve gifts. I will be looking for ways to share Christ. I will be attending church, and fellowshiping with friends. I will spend time with family, enjoying the gift of their presence.
How will you be celebrating the birth of Christ, other than giving gifts?