How do we keep Christmas from being a holiday of over-consumption? This is the question that has been on mind. The challenge has become even more poignant because my two year old son is really excited about presents. He is excited to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and birthdays mean two things: cake and presents. I started explaining to him about Advent and the Advent house that we have to help our family countdown to Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ birthday. All of the sudden it struck me how non-sensical it all is! My son gets a little present everyday because Jesus is having a birthday? I have been caught- the consumer mindset has taken over Christmas. Even though we have told the grandparents “only three presents, please”—the struggle to keep Christmas to be more than shopping is real.
The tension tears at me because I love to give gifts. Yet my hope is to raise children who are as excited to give as to receive. I love the wonder and excitement of Christmas morning but I don’t what it to be all about presents. I want to nurture and display generosity but not materialism. I think Christmas is for fun and sometimes ‘luxurious’ giving. The challenge is to eliminate the stuff and to put the gift back into giving.
How can I help my two year old give to Jesus? A true gift- like the gift of the ham that the Herdmans left for the baby Jesus at the end of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (my favorite Christmas story of all time).
I like the idea of reclaiming Santa and brining back the story of St. Nicholas. Santa is not really evil. A friend told me of a Christmas Mass where Santa shows up to bring the baby Jesus a gift. Tim and I aren’t going to tell our kids that Santa is real but the story of a man who surprises boys and girls with presents is an example of generosity. Our Santa will give gifts whether or not they have been naughty or nice. God loves you so you get presents ? It is not by my merit that God gives me good or bad things.
Christmas will always include gift giving but I am hoping to avoid over- consumption. As my young family begins to make Christmas traditions of our own I want Advent and Christmas to be full of wonder, surprise and generosity. Santa can come along for the ride.
Resources we are enjoying this year: CD Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God, book: God with Us edited by Gregory Wolfe