Struggling with Christmas, Part 1

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. It’s supposed to be a time filled with joy and laughter. For believers, it’s supposed to be a reason the reason to celebrate. So, why do I (and so many others) struggle with Christmas?

For me, it’s mostly frustration due to commercialization. I struggle with keeping a positive attitude about the appropriate amount of gifts to give, the appropriate amount of money to spend per gift/person. I’m frustrated that my kids are more concerned with receiving than giving (… just like I was at their age). I struggle with the “new” and the “better” concepts that seem to be profit driven.

Has Christmas become too commercialized? Yes. Should it frustrate me the way it does? No. So how do I protect myself from it? Here are four reminders I (and we) need:

Remember it’s not about me.

My perspective is oft times radically self-centered and prideful. No wonder I’m frustrated. I’m making it about me. I need to remember it’s not about me. Christmas is not about the stress of finding the perfect gift, or the annoyance of crowded shopping centers, it’s about Jesus! Christmas is about Christ entering the world, fulfilling the promise of God to redeem people, and establishing God’s kingdom.

Remembering it IS better to give than to receive.

Acts 20:35 reminds of Jesus’s own words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This reminds me about a concept my Lord and Savior lived out. Christmas is about generosity. It’s about giving gifts, not because we have to, but because we genuinely want to.

Remember to share in THEIR joy (thereby extending grace and experiencing joy)

I need to be reminded that there is joy in giving good gifts. In this, I can combat the thoughts I have running through my mind of what people think they deserve. A gift is just that, a gift, not deserved but freely given. It’s a gracious demonstration of love, not obligation.

Remembering the best gift of all.

Finally, I need to remind myself what this season is really all about. It’s about my God, coming in the form of a baby, living a sinless life, dying a shameful and undeserved death, paying a debt I could not have otherwise paid to a holy and perfect God, being resurrected from the dead thereby putting the curse of sin to death, making a restored relationship with my heavenly Father possible. That’s the best gift ever! That’s a gift I couldn’t get for myself with all the gift cards (or money) in the world.

My struggle with Christmas comes from my sinful perspective. Thank God, He has given me the gospel that I can preach to myself to remind me that this time of year can be a joyful celebration of all He has done through Christ as I seek to be generous with what God has blessed me with.