My Second Christmas Post


I’ve been reading all sorts of blogs and posts and articles about Christmas…Well, actually they’re not exactly about Christmas as they are about what to wear and what to bake and what to buy and how to watch your spending and how to not get stressed out (you wouldn’t believe how many articles I’ve seen just on that) and on and on and on and on.  This stuff is even on the news.

Of course, there are articles and blogs and posts on Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ.  (Don’t think I’ve seen or read anything about it on the news, but that’s to be expected.)

What’s kind of bugging me here is that I’m seeing the kinds of stories that talk about Christmas in a way that has nothing to do with Jesus on Christian sites and blogs.

Maybe I’m just anti-tradition.  Maybe I’m just weird.  I’m sure there are some that think I’m crazy.

When people, especially Christian people, come up to me and say, “So, are you ready for Christmas?” I know I give them a pretty incredulous look and mumble an answer like, “Ummm, yeah.”

What are they talking about?  Am I ready for Christmas?  What’s to get ready?  Wait…I get it.  They’re asking whether I’ve baked cookies and  Christmas cake till my oven went on strike, and if I’ve written out a Christmas card to absolutely everyone I know and don’t know (like my mailman), and if I’ve bought presents for everyone who’s ever meant anything to me, and if I’ve decorated my house to within an inch of it’s life, and if I’ve bought and started to defrost the 40 lb turkey I need for Christmas dinner.   That’s what they’re asking about, right?

Have I done all that?

Goodness, no!  And I’m not going to.

There’s nothing wrong with all that stuff.  To some people it’s very important.  To each their own, I say.

But what is my own?  I’ll tell you.

My own is a modest fake tree that the children decorate completely by themselves (with the exception of the lights, of course) so they can make it a work of art of their own.  My own is telling the children of how Jesus was born in a little barn and that God sent Him to save the whole world.  My own is looking for ways that my family and I can donate our time (because we have no money) to help others less fortunate than we are (we do, at least, have a roof over our head and there are so many don’t).  My own is to make sure that my children know that I love them and that God loves them even more.

I can’t put effort into fancy celebrations.  Partly because I’d rather be comfortable than dressed up, partly because I don’t like putting a lot of effort into things that last mere moments, and partly because “fancy” takes away from the real point of this day.

I have troubles understanding why fellow believers in Jesus take part in all the bruhaha of the season.   They decorate and bake like crazy.  And they stress themselves out doing it.  They put on this big fancy meal with presents and greeting cards and the whole shebang.  They slave for hours putting all this together.  I guess it is service in a way…they do all this to please others, and that’s a good, Christian thing to do.  And that is why I say that there is nothing wrong with it.  I mean, if someone I know wants to put on a fancy shindig and invite me to it, I’ll be the least fancy dressed person there.  I love spending time with family and friends, especially when there’s good food to go with it.  But why put back-breaking effort and tons of money into a get-together that will only last a couple of hours?  Sure, there’ll be some great memories as a result.  But why not, instead, have muffins and coffee and then go out and put the same effort and money into serving the homeless or some other charitable need?  You’ll create more than just great memories.

Like I said, maybe I’m just anti-tradition.  It went against my grain to put up a tree this year.  The only reason we did is because we knew the kids were  getting presents.  The only reason the kids are getting presents is because their aunts and uncles are giving them presents.  The only reason they’re giving my kids presents is because they want to…I told them not to.  I want to break out of this gift giving business.  I very much want, in lieu of gifts, to take my family to a shelter or something and give our time to people who need to see the love of God.

I mean, my family (my parents and siblings) have a great Christmas tradition.  We don’t do turkey…we do fondue.  Pots of hot oil in which we stick our long metal forks with cubes of beef, fish, shrimp, mushrooms, scallops, and onions dipped in homemade batter.  It’s great.  It’s been our traditional family Christmas meal for probably 25 years or so.  But it can be a lot of work and, with me, my husband and kids and my sister and her husband, our family’s gotten pretty big, so it’s a big expense too.  But it’s the tradition in my family.  But, sometimes I wonder if we couldn’t put that effort and money to better use.  $60 will send a child in El Salvador to school for a year.

I guess I am anti-tradition.  I balk at the idea of doing things just because they’ve always been done.   Why take part in traditions that have no Jesus-point to them?

I do believe, absolutely, that Christmas is a time to be with your family.  But I don’t believe that fancy meals and presents are the point.  There’s too much consumerism and commercialism in this world as it is.  The day we celebrate one of the most important events in history should not be mired in worldly concepts.  It should be celebrated in reverence to the incredible Gift God gave us.

God sent His Son to suffer and die for the whole world, even for me.  He died to save a wretched, mess of a woman like me.  Sometimes, the mere thought of that sends any notions of parties and presents right out of my head.  It humbles me to the point where I sometimes actually think, “How could You have done such a thing?  How could You have sent Your only Son to save such a miserable race?”

Well, He did it because He loves us with a love we will never understand.

I have a friend who is off to Haiti in a couple of days.  She’s going to be spending Christmas at an orphanage there.  Why is she doing this?  So that the people who have been helping out there for so long can go and spend Christmas with their families.  She’s sacrificing her time with her family and friends so that others can have an opportunity to be with their family and friends.  Isn’t that incredible?  It’s the perfect example of what Christmas is all about.

 

You can keep your fancy stuff.

I’m a low-income blue collar woman with a pile of kids that God loves enough to die for.  Modest and simple has always been my style.

Red and green aren’t my colors anyway.

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7 Responses to My Second Christmas Post

  1. Lynda says:

    I agree Sharon, that we need to give to others, especially when they don’ t have what we have but that is part of why we have programs like Micah 6:8. I know they would love help and need people to go out. They try going out on the 24th and give special gifts for Christmas.

    However, I do believe we need to celebrate and show our appreciation for the friends and family God gave us too. A way of showing our love that we don’t always do to those people (too often we take them for granted and it’s a time of year to show our love in a very small way like God showed us His love for us). I agree that there are extremes and like you for me I don’t like going crazy but I do like giving to show my appreciation to others.

    • Sharon G. says:

      Then I guess we shouldn’t be waiting for Christmas to show that love, now should we? Taking each other for granted is something that should stop, shouldn’t it?

      And like I said, don’t think at all that there is anything wrong with any of that stuff…giving gifts is a nice way to show people you care. I love giving gifts too, but I also don’t either. It would drive me crazy if I gave someone a gift to show that I cared about them and then they gave me a gift back. I would have troubles believing, basically because of my own insecurities, that they gave that gift to me out of anything other than feeling obliged to because of what I gave them.

      As for everything else, at least tradition-wise, like I said, if there’s no Jesus-point to the tradition I don’t see the point in keeping the tradition. A good friend of mine sent me a wonderful complement to this blog in a facebook message and said that she wanted to make more “meaningful traditions that bring us to the manger, instead of the mall”. And that’s really how I feel.

  2. Liz says:

    Why do people get all bent out of shape to please others during the holidays? you ask… Pride. A common case of the Need To Be Liked, and the Need to Impress Others. Or the repetition of tradition. Your family has a tradition. While it may not be the most common one, it’s still a tradition.

    I’m all for changing tradition. In my Ukrainian background, it’s tradition to serve dehydrated rehydrated fruit. GROSS. My mom makes it less and less often, and I like to think it has something to do with my use of logic. Why eat dehydrated fruit that is floating around in juice? It just doesn’t make sense.

    I commend you on your intitiative to teach your kids something different about Christmas. But do NOT diss the tree or the lights. If I had it my way, the Christmas lights would be up all the time, year round. They create ambience, and, if you’re looking for it, a somber tone, which can be useful if you wish to sit in silence and reflect.

    Sorry got a little off track for a sec.

    You can’t kill the hype of Christmas, so I don’t think fighting it is the right way to go. The energy is there; might as well direct it in the right direction (like my anger and hatred towards the lowerarchy of Hell…but that’s a completely different story…)
    So the next time somebody comes up to you and asks you if you’re ready for Christmas, instead of getting upset or agitated, put your energy through the Jesus filter and excitedly respond “Honey, I was BORN ready!” A little change in your decision making processes about your attitude and the enemy cringes. I’ve done it. And it feels GOOOOOD. Plus, if the other person was about to go on and on about the list of crap they still “have to” get done, they may get stopped in their tracks, seeing how relaxed and content you are, and absorb your positive energy. Heck, they may even take some advice on how to “beat stress around the holidays”. You might impress the right person and end up with your own advice column. But it’s all about choosing to have a good attitude, despite the aggravation that the enemy is trying to instill in you. Don’t forget that our battle is not against flesh and blood….you know the Scripture. I recommend you read it again. Slowly. And then get on the real battlefield. It pays to know the schemes of the enemy; let’s not forget who the enemy is.

    • Sharon G. says:

      I’m not looking to kill the hype of Christmas and I don’t get upset when I’m asked if I’m ready for Christmas…it’s more like I don’t understand the question and want to respond “What should I be doing to get ready for Christmas?”

      As for the tree, I put one up and I let my children decorate it, but it’s a tradition that has nothing to do with Jesus. The tree came from the blending of Pagan winter festival rituals into the Christian holiday of Christmas. It was the Pagans who decorated the trees first.

      This blog is just my opinion about how a lot of our Christmas traditions don’t lead to Jesus, and I didn’t write it in a spirit of angst or anger.

      Like I said several times in the blog, I wasn’t saying there was anything wrong with the Christmas traditions. If people like them I won’t hold anything against them and I will still celebrate with them…those traditions just don’t really hold water with me anymore. I think that everything about Christmas should point to Jesus which is why I say we should be out helping the less fortunate instead of gorging ourselves on food and presents.

  3. Karen Rodway says:

    Love your blog. To me, the Christmas tree is a German tradition. The Christmas tree originated from Germany. My oma and opa would put real candles on it and my mom would sing Chrsitmas songs with her siblings. To me the tree is a part of my traditions and I have tired to pass that on to my children. My grandparents lived during the war in Germany and they too had nothing…as the Nazi’s came in and took their stuff too. To me the tree represents a little bit of freedom and the simplicity of what my mom enjoyed at Christmas time.The simple German Wiehnachts Teller with a pair of songs, some chocolate and a hot cocoa. The tree comes with tons of stories passed on the second generation of my family. The tree to me represents my past and it comforts me. We always celebrate Christmas Eve and I never woke up to gifts from SANTA. My children don’t either. Those are my beleifs and thankfully Santa or not, we can all believe in something, right?

    • Sharon G. says:

      Now those are the traditions I can stand. Traditions that mean something real to the people who keep them. Few people do that. They put up the tree and give presents and such because that’s what’s always been done.

      My family had already long since left Germany before the first world war. But, I can certainly appreciate your heritage and what traditions for Christmas mean to you. I hope your children will come to value them in the same way.

  4. Pingback: February 14 | For What It's Worth (The Gozette)

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