Christmas is nearly here... and on facebook
you will often see me complaining about Christmas. My hubby is a fedex guy, an extremely hardworking backbreaking fedex guy- and while he works super hard all year, its THIS time of year that really kills us. I say US because while he's out laboring, the kids and I are home laboring. We are going through a really rough time right now, particularly with Asher and we've come together as a family- ALL of us, as this massive labor of love to make things ok with Asher. He requires one on one attention whenever he's not sleeping. Every one of us is exhausted most of the time. we struggle to get simple things done right now, like meals, cleaning, schooling. Top priority is attention and care of all the children and dh. Second priority is schooling, the demands of both public school and our charter school at home. everything else pretty much falls by the wayside. We survive and that's what we are shooting for now. So december is REALLY hard for us, and seeing how wrecked my love is at the end of every day is hard.
Ever since I became a mom (and a Christian) Christmas has been an issue. We have run the gambit from celebrating ALL elements of Christmas, both Christian and secular, to doing absolutely NO Christmas festivities. This year, I was amazingly blessed with the peace of knowing EXACTLY where God wanted us, and how He wanted us to celebrate.
Being a Fedex wife, i get a front row seat to everyone's greed. I've never understood the feeding frenzy of Christmas- going into debt to "give my children a Christmas" and Please, PLEASE don't ever say those words around me, because i WILL grimace, and i MIGHT be tempted to smack you and tell you to WAKE UP!
PLASTIC JUNK UNDER A DEAD TREE DOES NOT "A CHRISTMAS" MAKE!
It pains me to see Christmas reduced to this. You'll often hear me talking about how much i HATE Christmas, and I think i need to be more specific because usually i'll get a comment about how i'm a "scrooge" and that's not true at all. I LOVE "REAL" Christmas. I love celebrating advent, and reading about the amazing miracls that occurred surrounding His birth ALONE, let alone all the miracles He did in his life and of course rising from the DEAD! I LOVE that! i LOVE seeing the generosity and the giving spirit people have toward others at Christmas time.
But there's another spirit present, and its not so beautiful. Its the nagging guilt about if you are buying your children enough STUFF so they can go to school and tell their peers about it. Its the loading more and more on to the credit card that you will take a decade to pay off so that you can fit in with others. Its people referring to "A Christmas" and meaning NOTHING about Christ in that. Its greed- pure and simple- and then, not so simple is the power of traditions and meomories. WE ALL celebrated Christmas as kids, right? I remember having great times, particularly with my grandparents, but with all my extended relatives. It was as very special family time for us. The gifts were totally the focus for me. with only my brother and I, it was a FREE FOR ALL! we got a LOT of stuff. I think most kids get a LOT of stuff!
The thing is, and I don't know WHY it hits me so hard, maybe i'm just able to appreciate my salvation so much because of where I came from Because I wasn't raised Christian, i wasn't in any way on the road to salvation. I could have SO MANY TIMES, even in my childhood, died without Christ. And that impacts me in a huge way. Its serious.
And to turn MY Jesus who saved my life, into a free for all excuse to worship stuff, is absolutely unacceptable to me.
Being a Christian means the Holy Spirit is inside me, guiding my decisions and leading me in the best choices for my family, and what it feels like to me, is this nagging that won't go away, it prods at me and makes me uneasy until we settle on the right choice. Then its gone and i've got this amazing sense of peace. That happened on December 7th when I read this AMAZING article by Ann Voskamp-
When Christmas gets radical: Who's birthday is it REALLY?
I read the article like any other day, skimming through my favorite blogs on my ipod, with my blog watching program, but that one hit me like a ton of bricks. You absolutely MUST read this article! Mrs. Voskamp speaks of an innocent question her young child asked her. Why don't we give Jesus REAL presents? presents that are tangible and require sacrifice? This lead her to entertain all sorts of thoughts. it was this one that jumped out at me-
I’d rather only fill a child’s tummy than fill my house with anymore things.
Maybe that’s always the only choice we have to make every Christmas: feed our own fickle wishes or feed the real hunger of Christ?
I spoke with Andy about it, and he wholeheartedly agreed. This year and for years to come, we are giving gifts to JESUS. It IS, afterall HIS birthday. We did let the kiddos open their one gift each that we'd already gotten, early, but we all agreed that we'd rather give gifts to Jesus with the rest of our holiday funds, and in future years to come.
I challenge all of you who are believers to think about this, really hard. And maybe even to put your money where your mouth is. Everyone in the Christian community, anyway, throws around banter like "Jesus is the reason for the season!" and "I love Jesus more than presents!"
How about giving JESUS the gifts this Year, (or if you've already spent your Christmas budget, next year) How about helping World vision provide clean water in Africa! Or help free young girls from the torture of sexual slavery.
How about giving just $5 to provide God's word to someone who needs it. Or buy livestock or an education to a child through Compassion
Perhaps you might want to spend $9 with Samaritan's purse to feed a hungry baby for a week. What a bargain!
There are so many ways to give REAL, TANGIBLE, gifts to Jesus. Also consider Partners international Gospel for Asia and the Mennonite central Committee
Maybe I don't REALLY hate Christmas after all! My heart is light, with no sense of the sorry substitute for "Christmas" that the world celebrates, thinking about the amazing good that WE can accomplish in HIS name, if we choose to use the money that would normally be spent to gratify ourselves and our families. Think about it! pray about it! I think giving to the birthday Boy could be the most joyful celebration imaginable. While we are on an extremely meager budget this year, what fun we will have Christmas eve picking out presents for our Lord!!