If you ask a child what his or her favorite holiday is, many times the answer you will get is Christmas. When you ask more specifically WHY Christmas is their favorite holiday, answers relating to Santa, decorations and parties emerge, but the main answer tends to focus on presents and gifts. Christmas is like a second birthday but a much bigger and better deal!
Many parents use Christmas as a behavior modification tool reminding children to behave and that “Santa is watching” or, these days, the Elf on the Shelf sees them. If a child doesn’t behave, he won’t receive Christmas gifts! As children grow older the desired gifts tend to become more expensive and more elaborate. Consumerism tries to promise us that if we only give our loved one this specific gift he will be happier, she will be prettier or they will be more content. Unfortunately the newness of the gift wears off, the false promises don’t pan out and we once again are looking for happiness on the shelves of a store.
As we get older many adults go through the routine of trying to find that perfect gift for a loved one. We “know” that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, not that of the loved one, and yet we still focus on what to buy that specific person. The question we should be asking is this: what do we give Jesus on his birthday?
How can we change the usual focus of materialism and consumerism to that of giving Jesus what HE desires on his birthday? I’m pretty sure Jesus is not looking for the latest PlayStation, leather coat or diamond earrings. He isn’t hoping for a scented bath set, new CD or bicycle. And while I can’t say for sure what Jesus might want for his birthday his wish list might include our feeding the poor, clothing the naked and comforting the sick or lonely because when we do these things for others we are doing them for him.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
We serve God when we serve others. We give to Jesus when we give to others. We share our talents, time and resources with God when we share them with others. You can bet that those are the gifts that would make Jesus smile! How ironic it is that we have trouble finding the perfect gift for certain family members or friendsthe people who often seem to have everythingwhen it’s clear what Jesus would want for his birthday.
This season, as a family, consider these questions:
- Are there people on your shopping list that are hard to buy for? What could you do in honor of that person’s name that would help someone else?
- How can we honor Jesus with our financial resources?
- What new traditions could you start this year to celebrate Jesus on his birthday?
The Christmas season is a great time for families to focus on our priorities of faith, family, friends and service.