Christmas feels like it has snuck up on me this year. I’ll confess, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping in time at all! Naturally, I’m in stress mode over what to get people, the travel to and from family and finding time to work in all of it! However, for the first time in a very long time, I have bought presents that I know my family and friends want and find useful – though, that’s not to say I haven’t put thought into presents before now! This year, I’ve made a special effort to find something decent that will be what people want and still have an element of surprise.
Each year we get two messages; one from retailers and society telling us to spend as much money on people for Christmas as possible. The second says don’t bring money into it, avoid buying presents as they’re hollow gifts bought solely because it happens to be Christmas. Message number one is quite obviously not a message with our best interests at heart as it is purely about fuelling consumerism, but part of me has always felt uncomfortable with the second message as well. In a time and place where a large majority of the people surrounding us will be receiving and giving something on Christmas day, saying to my family “let’s not do presents this year” feels to me like we’d only be doing so just to be counter-cultural.
For some though, removing presents from Christmas has worked and does make the reason for the season more meaningful to them, and that’s great! I hope the people that buy because of message number one might learn something from their example. However, it seems today we get these two extreme messages. Either define your love through piles of money or through time together, with no room for anything in between!
This year, the nonconformist in me has shone through and I’ve opted to go for something in between. I’m spending a week with family, but as I’ve said, I’ve bought decent, useful and pretty damn good gifts if I do say so myself. I’ve not broken the bank either, as being an intern means I have genuinely no income at all! Despite that though, I’ve managed to bring the best Christmas down to my family than I’ve done for a long time (possibly ever). Well, almost – I still need to find a snazzy bottle opener!
What matters is finding the balance between the amount you spend and how thoughtful/useful your presents are – ideally ones that say “I value you enough in my life that I want to get you something I know you’ll love and/or find useful”.
Showing and sharing in the love of Christ and remembering his birth is what Christmas is about. Getting caught up in consumerism and ‘beating last year’s haul’ means losing the very reason we come together. Jesus is the reason for the season and everything we do at Christmas should reflect his love for us.
In short, do what’s best for you and your family at Christmas, focussing on God’s love and remembering how Jesus came into this world. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers, from both Dan and me. Have a blessed season.