It’s that time of year folks, time to get out the mulled wine and mince pies, and wonder if your pay cheque will stretch for all those presents you have to buy. The majority of us don’t get a Christmas bonus so we still have the same outgoings, only this month it’s like it’s everyone’s birthday at once. Feeling the pinch? If not now, then soon. It’s time to ask yourself if you’re ready to do it all again this year.
So what is all the hype about?What do we really have to look forward to in celebrating Christmas? I guess for some the mere giving and receiving presents is enough. For me, buying all the presents is usually a stress-filled day (might have something to do with the fact that I always leave it to Christmas Eve to begin), and by Christmas Day I’m so warn out I’m not even excited to open the presents people have been kind enough to give. It’s always that awkward tension from the thought ‘what are the chances that I’ll like this’, mixed with the added pressure that comes from the giver watching you open it, making you question how convincing you’re ‘I love this’ face can look.
We can’t even claim that Jesus is the reason for the season because technically, he isn’t. He’s the reason that we have the opportunity to begin a relationship with God, yes, the reason that we can have joy whilst going through the worst that life has to bring, yes, but the reason that we all sit around a tree opening presents, quite frankly, not. I’m sure these statements aren’t hard to swallow, we all know that Christmas began as a Roman pagan celebration and most of us know that Jesus wasn’t even born in December, so why do we as Christians, defenders of the faith, buy into this yearly cash-loss?
Christians generally pipe up at this point to highlight that although Jesus was not born on Christmas Day and the celebration was not sparked by a desire to commemorate the birth of our king, December 25th is as good a day as any other to celebrate him. I want to agree, but let’s be honest, even if we did want to make Christmas a day of honouring the birth of Christ, remembering his humble beginnings in a manger and supernatural conception, how can we defend that nothing says that better than the perfume sets we buy for our friends and the holidays we take our partners on? The whole concept that the exchange of presents depends on how well behaved one has been goes completely against the message of undeserving grace that Christ died for. The gift that God gave us in Christ’s life, and the mercy that was shown in Christ’s death are key in God’s message of unconditional love for all.
I’m all for giving gifts and eating till my sides hurt, I just won’t pretend that at the centre of the festivities is the saviour that died for my sins. Words that I can associate with Christmas are gluttony, greed, and gloating, and they should have no place in a celebration of a God that embodies love.
So what do I propose?
If we want to defend that Christmas is as good a time as any to celebrate Christ, then why wait till the transport comes to a halt and a turkey is in the oven to begin the celebration. Let’s spend quality time with our families as often as we can, make people feel special all year round, and give the gift of love to whoever we meet. Christ brought a gift of salvation to mankind, let’s lot limit our acts of kindness to our loved ones,let’s adopt the true message of Christ’s birth, unlimited love to all.
When I think of the materialism that Christmas spurs, the hype over who can make the best advert, and the struggle that January brings because of all the money people have felt pressure to spend, it makes me want to opt-out, but that is by no means my prescription for all. (It’s not even my prescription for myself-there’s no way my family would allow that). What I will say, is if you want to engage in the festivities and spread the love on Christmas Eve, by all means eat to your hearts content and give the presents you know will warm the recipients’ hearts. Let’s just be mindful to spread the essence of Christ’s love all year round.