Many arguments have been made that Christians should shun Christmas because it was set up on the same day as a pagan festival and has let some pagan customs infiltrate it. In fact, the puritan Pilgrims who landed here in 1620 banned Christmas for many years.
Should we then play the part of Scrooge and say, “bah humbug!”? Should we call attention to the fact that certain of our Christmas traditions such as the yule log, the decorated tree, and mistletoe each have their roots in pagan festivals? Should we assert that to celebrate Christmas is to promote paganism and thus is not the Biblical thing to do?
I don’t think so. Christmas, in its heart, represents something beautiful: the greatest gift of love and sacrifice ever given. That’s the reason we celebrate. But that focus has been lost in the cacophony of materialism and fat men in red suits. Bethlehem and the manger story are almost completely obliterated in a blizzard of Santa Claus, Christmas trees and consumerism masquerading as gift giving. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at war with St. Nick and we have a Christmas tree in our home with stockings etc., but when it camouflages the true meaning of Christmas it is tragic and sad.
The Christian Christmas has been co-opted by the American Dream, but it’s still within our power to take it back, and not by arguing about people using the terms “X-Mas” and “Happy Holidays”, but by simply celebrating like a Christian. What does that mean? Well, here are some ideas which are more in line with a true celebration of our Savior’s birth.
Give a Gift to God
David said in 2 Samuel 24 that he would not offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. Give God a sacrifice from yourself. Forgive someone who needs your forgiveness. Commit to spend time with God daily. Give up something you’ve been harboring. When we do this, we take the focus off ourselves and the gifts and place it back on God.
Volunteer as a family
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s the best way to bond as a family and shift Christmas from a spirit of getting to a spirit of giving. There are plenty of places that need volunteers; the local homeless shelter, the Salvation Army, or an organization that brings meals on Christmas to those in need. The joy you’ll get from seeing the lit-up faces of those you’re helping is far more rewarding than unwrapping that third pair of boxers from your mother.
Donate to a Cause
Take the money you would have spent on gifts and donate it to a cause you care about. It’ surprisingly cheap and the amount we spend on Christmas each year can go a long way to helping someone overseas meet basic needs in the name of Christ. Check out this awesome video detailing how to do just that.
Give Gifts That Don’t Cost
Your husband may not need a new tie, but what if you gave her the promise that you’ll give him a back rub every day for the month of January? Offer to cut the grass every weekend come summertime. Promise to take out the trash or make dinner every other Thursday. Acts of service like these demonstrate love more than a pair of new earrings. Often we keep doing Christmas for the kids’ sake, but children are resilient. Don’t make it a money issue with your kids, but talk about it in the context of what the holiday really means: “This is the time to be with family, not for getting new skis”. Make the change gradually and they’ll accept it and even appreciate it. As an added bonus, when your friends whine about not being done with Christmas shopping, you can say, “My shopping’s done. We didn’t do any.”
Donate Gifts to Kids in Need
It doesn’t have to be extravagant. When I was in Brazil once, I heard a moving story about a little girl who wept over the gift of a toothbrush. Think of the joy you can bring to a little one with even a small gift. Have you kids do the same and teach them the importance of sharing God’s love with others in tangible ways. You can even go shopping with your child and help them pick out toys for other kids. In my experience, kids get into this more than adults do.
Read the Christmas Story
Take time during the day to read aloud (or have your kids read) the Christmas story in Luke 1:5-56 and 2:1-20 and discuss what it means to us today.
However you decide to celebrate, try to cut back, ignore the hype, and keep the focus where it belongs.
How do you do Christmas like a Christian in your family? Share your ideas with us!