Monday, November 27, 2006

(un)Grateful

I love Thanksgiving! And I think I am a grateful person for the most part. I really am thankful that God has provided a wonderful family, a warm house, salvation and all sorts of other things. And who can't be thankful when it is over 50 degrees in Minnesota in late November? The kids played outside with no coats or shoes!

But this year I don't feel very grateful. I'm not sure if it is because of the chaos that consumes most of my life or the fact that I was more excited about the ads for Black Friday in the paper than I was about taking time out to think about being thankful. I realized that I spent most of the day strategizing and thinking about what I want to buy for Christmas.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can start worrying about where we'll be for Christmas, how long we should stay, and if everyone will like what we got them. My Dad was saying that when he was young getting a gift was a huge deal because there was less. Now, it is hard to find things to buy for people that they don't already have because we have so much. We can busy ourselves decorating, wrapping presents, baking, going to parties and programs. It will be so busy and crazy that it will just come and go in the blink of an eye and without a thought like Thanksgiving did.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but for me I have to put Christ back in the center of my life and my holidays. Sure, I'll tell you the holidays are all about Christ, but are they? When people watch me do they see the things I'm doing as worship of the Savior? I'm not sure they would.

I'm not going to stop baking or decorating or going to parties. As long as Christ is the center of my life those things all become acts of worship. I kind of hate the dorky saying "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" but it's true! Without him it is all empty. There's a great debate brewing over "Merry Christmas" and the switch to "Happy Holidays". The "Christian" community is saying they are taking Christ out of Christmas. I disagree, I think we are guilty of taking Christ out of Christmas in our hearts - yes, even Christians. Who cares which way you say it. If Christ isn't in your heart you may as well just say Bah Humbug! And on a brief sidenote, I think we are mistaken if we think that we will evangelize the world by forcing our stores and schools to use the word "Christmas". The Christ in Christmas is a matter of the heart! Okay, enough preaching!

We're also going to try to give more this year. We want to remember and help our kids learn that there are people in this world that are needy, they don't have food or houses. There will be no presents for them. We want to get our whole family involved in that kind of giving. It might even mean we have less to spend on our family and friends (who aren't very needy).

I think it is easy for me to let my eyes slip from Jesus and thus let all the joy and meaning of the holidays drain out of my life. What do you do to keep Jesus at the center? Is there anything you need to change?

Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

One thing that we are trying for the second year with my side of the family is this... All of the adults have agreed to forego getting or receiving any gifts from each other.

All the money you would have spent on the adults is put into a pool. Then we take turns as to whose family gets to decide how to spend the money. Last year my sister took her kids and bought some toys for Toys for Tots, they bought a gift certificate for Cub Foods for a family in need, they gave to KTIS, and sent christian CDs to soldiers in Iraq. She took pictures and wrote up a little description of what they gave to. That's what we opened at our Christmas celebration. It was so great.

This year it's our turn. I think we might buy a World Vision goat! We'll see.

It's a very fun and it helps get your kids to think of others in need too.

It is so hard to balance it all. I'd love to hear what other families do to help keep Jesus the center of Christmas.

Mike said...

I've been told from a European source that over there they only give one gift on Christmas Eve, and then only to the children. On Christmas day its simply family, friends and food - much like our Thanksgiving.

Christy said...

Mike - Europe sounds like your kind of place!