What I Want for Christmas

When I was a child, getting Christmas gifts was very important.  We would make lists of what we wanted, or drop hints trying not to seem greedy but the reality is that gifts were an entitlement.  My family was not rich by US standards at that time (and not even close by today’s standards), but we did expect there to be gifts under the tree and there always were.  Of course, we got some of the utilitarian gifts like clothes but what we wanted was toys.  A rite of passage was the bicycle, even though it didn’t fit under the tree, it would be sitting in front with a bow on it (kids don’t seem to care about bicycles anymore, back then every kid had to have their own).  Once we hit a certain age we were expected to give as well as get.  Some kids made gifts but I can’t remember doing that.  We were given five dollars early, from my aunt in Missouri who sent us money every year, so we would have money to buy five gifts.  I vaguely remember my mom taking me to the turnpike, about a half mile from our house, where Mays and the 5 & Dime store were.  She would ‘suggest’ gifts for everyone in the family and then pretend to look the other way when I bought her a ten-roll pack of peppermint Lifesavers.  I didn’t understand why we spent a bunch of money and wrapped things other than, “it’s Christmas and that’s what you do.”

When I was in my early twenties I really enjoyed spending way too much on my credit cards giving gifts I couldn’t afford but as soon as I moved out on my own that stopped and that was pretty much the end of the Christmas gift exchange until I got married. There were kids involved again, but my wife’s family goes overboard with gifts for adults too. They ask me what I want and my honest answer is ‘nothing.’ I don’t need anything and if I want something I can just buy it (and if I can’t just buy it, then it’s too expensive for somebody to buy it for me). So what happens? For a few years I would intentionally not buy stuff I wanted so I would have something to put on a list but lately there really isn’t anything I want or need. It just feels silly to spend money on stuff just because that’s what you do at Christmas. Now, before you call me scrooge I do believe in giving gifts but first let’s talk about why people started giving Christmas gifts in the first place.

Two thousand years ago a child was born and Christmas is the celebration of the birthday. We don’t know the exact date so a long time ago church leaders picked December 25th which is as good as any other day and they had reasons we won’t explore. So why would we celebrate somebody’s birthday when we don’t even know the right date and they lived so long ago? Because its God’s birthday, the day that God became a child on earth to give himself as a gift for all of us. This was the first and greatest Christmas gift, and 33 years later he completed the gift when he lay down his life so that we may live.

John 15:13 (ESV)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

You say, you knew all this but why do we give Christmas gifts? And, why do we go crazy spending too much money and fighting traffic? Many of us do it for the wrong reason, because that’s what you do for Christmas. Right? So what’s the right reason? Love, to show others that you love them…

John 3:16 (ESV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 22:39 (ESV)
…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

So what do I want for Christmas? Nothing, but if you have to do something do it for somebody that really needs it. Give to a non-believer and explain why; or give to the Salvation Army; or send some chicks or a goat to the truly poor http://www.foodforthepoor.org/giftcatalog

Romans 12:13 (NIV)
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Share God’s love by telling others what God has done for you.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you, for showing your great mercy and loving kindness by sending your son into this world.  For giving him as our Saviour and the bridge that allows us, a sinful people, access to you.  We ask that you bless all those who do not know the true story of Christmas and open their hearts to receive salvation through your son, our Saviour, Jesus this Christmas.  That you would guide us not to focus on the worldly gifts but on You and the gift that you have given us, in the great name of Jesus we pray.
Amen

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