Friday, December 3, 2010

Can I Just Say...

Sometimes at Christmas, Christians make me crazy.  Myself included.  Christmas becomes this crazy-train that I can see the crazy, and yet can't find a way off of it.  So I just keep on riding...even though I literally feel the motion sickness settle in...which is a nice way of saying, I want to barf.

I'm not sure this post is going to make any sense, to anyone other than myself...but that's the genius of having your own blog....it doesn't even matter if anyone else gets it.

I dread Christmas shopping.  If I only had a few presents to buy, I might enjoy it...but by the time I even get through half of our huge list I am less than jolly.  This year, thanks to my new bff Dave Ramsey I'm happy to report we've budgeted in every last penny for Christmas.  And instead of looking at the budgeted amount and rejoicing that we have enough money to make it work, I feel sick to my stomach that it costs so.much.money.  I can't help but feel like it's really sort of a waste.  A big waste.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus by spending a bunch of money and time on material things.  

We can put whatever spin on it that we want to, and trust me, I'm the Queen of justification, but it really boils down to the above sentence. 

As a believer, what message am I sending?  Because I have to tell you, I feel like a hypocrite.  Because what I believe to be true, and what my actions are do not match...it's practically the definition of a hypocrite. 

Maybe I've forgotten what I really truly believe.  Maybe it's time to take a few steps back.  Back to my source of truth, which is not tradition and/or consumerism but God's Word.

As I look through the Bible, I can't help but see that God himself didn't command me to make a huge ginormous yearly celebration over the birth of his son.  No matter how many times, well meaning Christian people tell me, I will still not think it's biblical to give each other gifts because God gave us the gift of his son.  Is it wrong?  No.  But can it be?  Yes.  

As Christians, do we really see what we're doing?  We're offended when people and shopping malls say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, because how dare they take Christ out of Christmas!

The world can't take Him out of it, they never had Him in it in the first place.  But believers...lets at least be honest with ourselves.  We love the tradition of Christmas.  We love the church services, the programs, the Christmas carols.  We love reading the Christmas story.  Some of us even enjoy the crazy schedules, parties, and lists of wants.  There's nothing wrong with any of those things, what feels wrong, for me at least...is doing it all in the name of celebrating my savior.   We love to try to make traditions into something holy.  And the world, it sees us better than we see ourselves sometimes.  They see behind the facade. 

God wants us.  In the hustle and bustle of a holiday that we've created, where's our heart?  In the massive amounts of time and money it takes to prepare for the holiday, where's our heart?  Is it thinking about all Christ has done for me?  Is it ministering to the emotional and physical needs of those around me, is it doing what God really has asked...being still and knowing that He is God?  

Mine is not.  Mine is too busy.  Mine is explaining and rationalizing to my heavenly father that it's totally ok, because after all...I'm celebrating his birth!  Think he's pleased?  Think I've convinced him?  He's not impressed by my justification skills...in fact, he's trying to crucify them.


The past few years, we've tried to do small things to back out of the craziness, so to speak.  Interestingly enough, at times it made me feel like a huge party pooper.  It's easier to go with the flow...turns out, being a hypocrite is super easy! :)  But I long to do something radical about it.  It doesn't matter how many times I try to tell my kids that Christmas isn't about presents...because if presents are involved, ITS ABOUT PRESENTS! 
I guarantee that my boys love their birthday because it means gifts, not because they're celebrating their birth.  

I long to say that the true meaning of Christmas is about Jesus, and have my actions and life mean it.  I'm not so excited about being the weirdo scrooge who poops on the party that is Christmas.   

Maybe next year.  

Any radicals out there?  


20 comments:

  1. Sigh. Yes, I feel your pain and yes, I am weary of claiming Christ and yet celebrating no differently from my unsaved neighbors. Same frenzy, same stress, same commercialism. I am a Scrooge but the kind that comes to the party with a frown on her face and the sour mood to match. Oh, Jesus, please, set me free!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is a post a reader sent me to...THAT is what I want our Christmas to look like.

    http://fromthetrenchesofadoption.blogspot.com/2010/11/celebrating-christ.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sarah I feel "EXACTLY" like you do and personally I am only doing for others this year. My wife and I decided to do for a man and a woman at a local rest home that doesn't have any family. I also sent a package to an orphanage in Siberia. I was venting the other day about it and got put in my place by a dear friend blogger. I posted her page on my blog for Thankful Thursday. Go there and click on "Debra and Tom". It was really good.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I want to say I want what you have posted...but I don't know if that is true... I think we are so far into it...sucked in by Media...so spoiled...I try to rationalize a bit by buying one need and one want for my kids... they are older now...I don't even know where I am going with this...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh Sarah. I can't say I've ever agreed with you more. This year we are only doing a few presents for financial reasons and it's really got me thinking. Then I saw this video and wanted to throw up. I can't quit thinking about the whole "be in the world but not OF the world" thing.

    Hopefully this link works- I'm on my iPhone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVqqj1v-ZBU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    ReplyDelete
  6. I get you. Totally.
    I'm really trying to put the focus on others and giving and not "getting." In fact, I am blogging in a series of posts in my blog about how we "do" Christmas in our house. We dont "do" Santa, either. Yes, I know, makes me a fun-sucker. LOL I plan to write about that, too.
    I do think you'd apprecite this little bit of child humor - that since we don't "do" Santa, we've told our girls the story of the real St. Nicholas - and that it's not their place to tell other kids anything about Santa. So they are all singing Christmas songs in Children's church and my almost 7 year old proceeded to tell the entire Children's Church class that Santa wasn't real. Priceless. I quickly ushered her out of the room before she caused a 7 year old boy to have a coronary.

    ReplyDelete
  7. oh, and totally off topic - why are our babies growing up so fast?????

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, yes, and yes. I posted about the crazy of Christmas today too, because this year, more than ever, I feel such a burden to impart truth to my boys...

    I really appreciated this Sarah!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you! I feel the same way. I thought this was a great idea. http://boundariesandbridges.blogspot.com/2007/12/seasonal-insanity.html?spref=fb

    Our family no longer really gives gifts to anyone except those in our own household. I can't afford to give in mass to people who already have everything they want/need. It seems irresponsible on our part. Our kids get three gifts each year from us, pj's, slippers and a book.

    It stems from not having two nickels to rub together, but we plan to keep going with the tradition. Thanks for sharing what many of us already feel.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am SO there this year. Not wanting the whatever it is that the world has to offer us at Christmas. I want it to be all about God. To have the focus on Him and tune out the craziness that is Christmas, even for Christians.
    Thanks for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sometimes I see Christians (usually when I look in the mirror) doing more stuff at Christmas.
    Like adding in taking food to the needy and providing gifts and trees to those less fortunate.
    Then going ahead with our own Christmas agenda of overindulging in everything including presents and food. (read: baked goods.)
    So that makes it all better, somehow.
    I love Jesus.
    How did this happen?
    How do I get radical about celebrating Jesus's birth?
    You have given me much to ponder and pray over.
    Thanks for giving my squelched down concerns a voice.
    Would you mind if I linked this blog on my fb or blog?

    ReplyDelete
  12. hmmm, I can see where you are coming from. Here's what I know for sure: The three wise man brought Jesus gifts for his birth, very extravagant gifts. God enjoys blessing us. Heaven is going to be THE.MOST.AMAZING.PLACE.IMAGINABLE. So, it gives me a tiny glimpse into what it's like to give a blessing, a hearts desire. Christmas is our time to give to others, as the money gets tighter the gifts get more and more "creative". We also bake a cake and decorate it for Jesus. It IS after all HIS birthday. I would not change a thing about how we celebrate Christ's birth. When the kids learn about Santa, I plan to give them the facts: St. Nicholas gave gifts to the less fortunate children, and now they (my kids) have a chance to be apart of the magic. I've GOT to believe it was a magical sight to behold the Chirst child in the manger, to look up and see the star, to hear the angels...it's the MAGIC, the WONDER, the PURE LOVE of the season. I understand that most people don't start thinking about Christmas until the stores start with all the decorations...it's funny that even Christans complain about the early start of decorations and music starting on the radio...I think it's great, the longer it's in our view, the longer we dwell on WHAT Christmas is, what it means...YES, it IS the celebration of God's gift to the Earth! And that is why we don't give gifts on EASTER, but instead on Christmas...it started with God and the wise man ;)
    And that's how Sara C~ C's it:)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I so get this, girl. We're trying to really change our focus this year (though we still do presents for our girl, who's 12 - but she's basically only getting things she needs, though there are a few wants in there). Trying to give more to others who are really in need, and start living out Jesus instead of just talking about Him.

    AMEN, friend! AMEN!

    ReplyDelete
  14. YES. This has been bugging me lately too. This will be the first year that Lily really "gets" what presents are and I want so badly to NOT make it be about that. But like you said, it doesn't matter how much you tell them "It's not about the presents" it IS about that for them. Good thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Do you read Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience? She's got some fabulous ideas about how to get the Christmas focus back where it should be. But I warn you: She's radical. Her family members haven't traded Christmas gifts for years now. (What an inspiration!)

    For what it's worth, I totally followed this post. I feel it too.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh, thank you! I feel like you have pulled these words from my own heart. When did I begin to dread Christmas? When it became all about trying to create a holiday on too small a budget in too little time. It's not what I want because it's not what God wants. Starting last year, I have begun some very small, but significant changes in our celebration. With God's help, I'll get to where He wants me to be regarding the celebration of His son.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I never told my children that Christmas was celebrating Jesus' birthday because no one knows when he was born, and like you said, it isn't in the Bible. Then having Santa, reindeer, lights, gifts, and trees just seems silly alongside of Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I struggle with the same thing. Every year! It shouldn't be so hard. But, I LOVE TO GIVE GIFTS. So I hate to ruin my own fun, too. It's a big conundrum.

    ReplyDelete
  19. YES & AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have written exactly what I feel & believe. I admire your boldness & your ability to put this into words!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Read the book "Can Martha have a Mary Christmas" by Brenda Poinsett (Christian Book Distributors 7.99). It is excellent and helpful and practical. I just read it and loved it. I'm not spamming, promise! This is the theme I am using for our Christmas Ladies Fellowship this year. Been wanting to blog about it but haven't had time! LOL

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting, you make blogging fun. :) If your comment doesn't appear right away, it's because it's awaiting moderation, but it will show up soon!