The Christmas season is in full swing at the Anderson household. This past week we've been enjoying all of the Christmas lights up in our neighborhood, driving slowly up and down the block so that our son can “ooh and ahh” all the twinkling lights.
We've watched probably 5 or 6 traditional Christmas movies on TV including Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and one of our new favorites the Shrek the Halls. We've also been enjoying listening to the various Christmas music stations on satellite TV, and singing along with all of the old favorites.
While all of those things have been good, I've also noticed this year maybe more than other years, that it can be easy to slip into a mindset about the Christmas holiday that doesn't really celebrate what it's really about. It can be easy to start believing the things that culture tells us about the holiday, and it can start to take too much of a hold on the celebration. Christmas can easily become a holiday about consumerism, about giving and receiving nice things. Far too often the true meaning of the holiday gets lost.
How Much Money Do We Spend On Christmas?
Just how much does the average family spend on Christmas gifts every year? According to the American Research Group, Inc. shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $854 for gifts this holiday season, up from $646 last year, and more than double the 2009 total of $417. Even more interesting, those planning to shop on the Internet plan on spending an average of $1,245.
So most folks in the survey said they were planning on spending anywhere from $854-$1,245 on Christmas gifts this year! That's a lot of money!
While we aren't planning on spending even on the low end of that number, we certainly are spending quite a bit of money on Christmas gifts this year. Buying the right Christmas gift for all the people on your list has taken on such an importance for some reason. My wife wants to give our son “a Christmas that he'll remember”, which has translated into us spending a lot of money on expensive toys for 2 1/2 year old. I appreciate the feeling behind it, but I'm not sure we're keeping the focus where it needs to be.
Mixed Up Priorities
I honestly think a lot of us in this country have started to turn Christmas into a holiday about things, and about getting and measuring our worth by the gifts we've received.
I've seen it in our own families when one person gets a gift that is perceived as being better than another's gift. Feelings can get hurt, and people start to wonder why their gift wasn't as nice. Far too often people are trying to fill holes in their lives with things, and are measuring their self worth by what they've received. When it doesn't measure up, they're disappointed, people get upset and relationships start to have problems.
The focus of the holiday has gotten away from celebrating the birth of a truly sacrificial giver in Christ, and become more about becoming people who take – and measure ourselves by our haul.
Focusing On The Things That Truly Matter
As the holiday quickly approaches this week I'm reminded in my own experience that the Christmas can start to be defined by the wrong things. Instead of focusing on giving, we focus on getting. Instead of being thankful for all we have, and celebrating the birth of our savior, we get upset about the gifts we didn't receive.
For me I want to try to focus on the things that matter this Christmas.
- The birth of my savior: For me the most important thing about the holiday is the celebration of the birth of my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate gift giver, he gave us the gift of eternal life in Him! I want to focus on His birth and being thankful for all that He has done.
- Family and being in community: Being with family and those that we're close to is so important during the holidays, especially since we live in such busy time where we're constantly on the go. Taking the time to connect is essential. How can you do that? By engaging in fun activities like building gingerbread houses, making homemade gifts for others or by singing Christmas carols! Be creative!
- Giving to others: One great way to curb the consumerism is to focus more on giving to others who have fallen on hard times. Giving generously can help us to release the hold that money and things can get on us, and allows us to partake in the true joy of Christmas – in giving. The world tells us that it's best to receive, but the giving is where we truly find joy.
I want to focus on being thankful for all that I've been given this past year, and to spread the joy that I've found in Jesus Christ.
Celebrating The Birth Of The Savior
So this Christmas I hope to celebrate the birth of Jesus by finding ways to give, by showing the people in my life that I love them, and by trying to keep the focus where it should be, on the sacrificial giving exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ.
What are some things that you'll be doing this Christmas in order to ensure the focus stays where it needs to be?