With Thanksgiving in the books and December knocking on the door, Sloan and Beau are already excited for Christmas. As their enthusiasm starts to build, Sidney and I face the same balancing act—letting our children enjoy the commercialism of our modern day secular Yuletide culture while making sure that the true reason of Christmas is emphasized, honored, and celebrated.
One common struggle is the obsession with gifts. Just in the same way that I intently focused on the presents I wanted as a 5-year-old, Sloan also eagerly anticipates what Santa and others might bring her. Totally normal behavior but it is something that does need to be reined in.
A couple weeks ago, someone encapsulated to me how to “rein in” gift obsession in a very profound way. As I was getting my blood tested, I chatted with the woman who was performing the exam. We discussed the upcoming holiday season and the pressure to buy buy buy. She shared with me the philosophy she used for purchasing gifts for her children.
“Jesus Christ received only three gifts on Christmas,” the woman began, “so why should anyone else receive more than that?”
Wow. What a great perspective. It just doesn’t seem right that someone should receive more presents than the birthday boy himself.
I shared with Sloan this wisdom over the weekend as she started to make a Christmas list. To her credit, she did take it to heart. When she presented her list to me, it only contained three items. The only issue was that next to each item was the number 14.
“Why did you put a ‘14’ next to the items on your list” I asked my daughter.
“Because I want 14 Barbies, 14 LOL dolls, and 14 OMG dolls,” she replied.
Perhaps she missed the mark just a bit.
I am realistic and know that at the end of every Christmas season I will probably feel that I fell short when it comes to our Santa vs. Jesus conundrum. By all means, Sloan isn’t the biggest culprit in the tilting of the scale toward the guy in the red suit. My love of all things Christmas—including St. Nick, a certain Chevy Chase movie, light displays, etc.—prove that I still have the same fixation on American commercialism that young children do.
But with Advent now underway and plenty of time to reflect on the incarnation of Jesus, perhaps we can make more headway this year. The perspective from the woman who tested my blood is a good starting point. Don’t Blink.