The Messages We Send About Christmas

181151-cropped-2The Holidays. We love them, but sometimes we dread them, too. Our society has placed such an emphasis on “stuff,” that most of us find ourselves, soon after Thanksgiving, stressing over money and tight schedules, and how will we ever get all the gifts and make it to all the events this season?

This has become so normal that we rarely even stop to question it. But, if we were to stop and question it, that question might sound something like this; “Uh, how does all this relate to the birth of Jesus at all?”

The truth is, it doesn’t. We tell ourselves it does, “The Wise Men brought Jesus gifts so we should give gifts to others. It’s more blessed to give than to receive, so it’s okay that I’m going crazy and spending money I can’t afford to buy gifts.” Sadly, we can find ourselves making sure that particular individuals get a nice gift, when we haven’t taken time to connect with that individual all year. We make sure all our decorations are just perfect, but don’t include the family because they might “mess something up.”

The saddest part about this whole thing is that our kids pay very close attention to holidays. Children are tuned in, because they know this is important. They pay attention and soak in anything they see their parents take seriously. So, what are you really teaching your kids about Christmas? Is it possible that we’re communicating the following WRONG messages?

It’s More Blessed to Give Stuff Than Give Time

When your children see you making an effort to give material gifts to people you never interact with, never check on, and never connect with, then you are sending the message that “stuff” can replace connection. Gifts are a lovely gesture, but how many people on your Christmas list this year really need connection? Elderly relatives who have lost a spouse this year, new parents struggling to adjust, friends dealing with sickness or loss, single parents, the list could go on. Take a second look at your Christmas list, not just to buy a gift and check off a name, but really look at it. Who are these people? What have they gone through this year? What do they really need? Let your children see you connecting as well as giving.

The Family with the Biggest Tree Wins

In recent decades, how we celebrate Christmas has become as much of a status symbol as what neighborhood you live in and what car you drive. The biggest tree, the brightest lights, the largest pile of presents, the best Christmas party and the cutest Pinterest photos, this is how we judge a successful Christmas. The only problem is, none of that really has anything to do with the true meaning of Christmas. Those are simply strokes to our own ego. Decorating can be good and fun when it is done as a family and not in a competitive sort of way, when the neighbor’s decorations have no bearing on how you choose to decorate and when getting a perfect social media pic is not the goal of your efforts. Your kids watch to see what you stress about, and they file that away as “Important.” What do they file about you? That you are trying to outdo your neighbors or family members in the name of Jesus’ birth?

This year, reevaluate the messages you are sending about Christmas. Refocus on people, not stuff. Give attention to memories, not competition. The birth of Jesus was about salvation, sacrifice, and true generosity. Have an authentic Christ-centered Christmas this year. It’s way less stressful.

Sarah Reeves

You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.

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