I love Thanksgiving and wish I could enjoy it, but the merchandisers want us thinking about Christmas.
The truth is, if we lived out Thanksgiving daily, we’d all be a lot happier. Grateful people are happy people. Greedy people are not.
But for some reason, even though we all say that we hate the merchandising of Christmas, we give way to it. The message of Jesus’ birth was lost a long time ago and now the greed that took over Christmas has invaded Thanksgiving too. Black Friday is now Black Thanksgiving. Sad.
But I want to challenge you to be different. Make this Christmas one of your most special ever, and enjoy it like the rest of the world cannot. It’s totally up to you to change the way you and your family does Christmas. We can expect the world to keep doing what they’re dong, but as followers of Jesus, we can be different. And we ought to be.
Here’s my challenge: back off the merchandising. Make the decision now that the specialness of Christmas is not going to be based on what your kids get, or what you buy. It’s not until we reject the world’s call to credit card debt and extravagant Christmas lists that we can sincerely focus on what we say matters most at Christmas. Even in most Christian families, kids are far more excited about what they are getting than they are about Jesus’ birth. Let’s stop criticizing what the world is doing and start concentrating on how we make Christmas for our own families.
I heard a great suggestion from a Mom on the radio this week. I wish I had caught her name, but let me give yo the gist of what she said. She suggested to parents to ask their children for a list of only three items:
- Something that will bring you closer to Jesus (devotional book, Bible)
- Something that you will wear (clothing, jewelry, perfume).
- Something that you want.
I caught very little of the broadcast but I think she got these ideas from the wise men’s gifts of gold (#3), frankincense (#1–symbolic of prayer), and myrrh (#2).
But that’s it…just three items.
She also suggested that parents ask the grandparents to limit their gifts the same way. She said that by doing so, we can give back to our children a special kind of Christmas that has long been lost. And I think she’s right.
How would something like that change Christmas for your family? I can tell you this, the Ziegler kids remember our best Christmases as the ones we gave away (one year a mission trip instead of gifts, other years family projects we did for those in need or for ministry purposes).
How would that ease the pressure you feel this time of year, to fill out those gift lists and the financial weight that comes along with it. That emotional change alone might be just the perfect gift that your kids need all the more––a mom or dad with a lot less holiday stress.
While there is instant gratification in gift-giving for parents and gift-receiving for kids, the long-term affects are not positive and the end result is this greed-based Christmas that has become an out-of-control merchandising frenzy. You’re not going to change Woodfield Mall or Target, but you can change your family and what they value most this time of year.
Talk about it now as a family and decide what you are going to do. But please, whatever you do, don’t let Thanksgiving morph into greed. Honor Jesus as the extraordinary gift that he is, and make him your focus.