In A World of Presents People Need…
As we head into the final month of the calendar year, now that Black Friday is over, the focus starts to sprint towards Christmas. I want to ask if you would take a couple of minutes to think about the thinking.
If we are always trying to keep up with the Jones, where are we headed? If we get caught up in a rat race what does winning mean?
There is a simple premise here what leaks out at Christmas time? It is simple, it is trying to find that perfect gift, that right present. Not sure if you’ve noticed how many people seem to put pressure on things for Christmas, trying to find that perfect gift, trying to make the Hallmark movie come to life, and finding a way to show that person (hopefully) how much you love them.
I know that some people are not economically challenged so finding the perfect gift is not a significant hurdle. However, for others, we have not quite found that tree that money grows on. The result is how to be prudent and yet proving, demonstrating our love.
At the same time, there are even those who are using bullying, called peer pressure or correctness, who say that we are not supposed to talk about Christmas.
A man named James made a comment years ago, “Beware the double-minded person, unstable in all they do”. Have you ever thought about the repercussions when we contradict ourselves?
Isn’t this part of the challenge we have at Christmas time; we are doing exactly this? On one hand, some say we should not wish a merry Christmas, talk about Christmas, or celebrate it. On the other hand, we have commercials, flyers, stores, and TV movies all shifting to focus on gifting at Christmas.
If I can stir the pot a little, I have a suggestion, even though as a Christian I wrestle with what cultural practices mean when they are double-minded. I am not interested in trying to convince you to have or not to have Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday. But let’s not be double-minded in the things we are doing – we will only have more instability. These are Christian in their etymology and since we are no longer a Christian country let’s not pretend to have it both ways.
My suggestion is simple, if we’re not going to mention, or talk about, the Christmas season then let’s not do it and get rid of the Christmas holidays, Christmas shopping, and all the specials around Christmas time. Imagine your employer telling you that there are no longer Christmas holidays, the workplace is open, so if you want to you can take holiday time, but it’s no longer a given. Schools and classrooms are not allowed to celebrate Christmas break. If a person does not celebrate Christmas, then they are expected to be at work, not paid a special rate either. Can you imagine going to a retailer and telling them that they are not allowed to sell Christmas gifts? Good luck with that!
The reality is it is a form without substance. It is about the packaging and not the content. It is about the surface and not the repercussions. Things are being talked about from both sides of the mouth, or a sense of double-mindedness. On the one hand, being told not to do this or that, but on the other hand, we want to have things and freedom. Ironically in some ways, being told not to do something motivates people.
It is my understanding that Encyclopedia Britannica is secular in its information. so from this source, look at what this says, ‘Christmas, Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. The English term Christmas (“mass on Christ’s day”) is of fairly recent origin. The earlier term Yule may have derived from the Germanic jōl or the Anglo-Saxon geōl, which referred to the feast of the winter solstice. The corresponding terms in other languages – Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, Noël in French—all probably denote nativity. The German word Weihnachten denotes “hallowed night.” Since the early 20th century, Christmas has also been a secular family holiday, observed by Christians and non-Christians alike, devoid of Christian elements, and marked by an increasingly elaborate exchange of gifts. In this secular Christmas celebration, a mythical figure named Santa Claus plays a pivotal role.’
In the last several months I have caught myself saying, ‘The upside of my work in crisis is I don’t have to spend a lot of time talking about the weather’. The reality is that we learn through crises or critical moments, what is of real value. It is not the gift that matters it is the giver. It is not the form the gift comes in but the spirit of the giving. As the old adage goes, it is not the gifts under the tree that count, it is the ones around the tree
My suggestion is this; last leg of the year? Live like it’s the last one.
While we head into this season that can be stressful, sad, happy, or exciting and sometimes all of the same time, give people the most precious gift of all – yet one of the few that can never be purchased – time. Don’t just hear, listen. When they are sharing, keep telling yourself WAIT – Why Am I Talking?
Time is a commodity which means once it is spent it can never be replaced. What is there that you can give that money cannot buy? Therefore, invest but also spend wisely.
When you think about giving a gift, is the focus on the gift or the giver’s motive?
In your relationships, what is it you want to value, and what is visible in your value? Do the other people know you value this about them and the relationship?
There is no peer pressure or marketing that steers you and me when we know what we really value. The urgent is less important, but the important is seldom urgent.