I know between all the family gatherings and Christmas parties this time of year that not many people are surfing the internet…including myself. But I’m coming up on the end of one my New Year’s Resolutions to post a blog at least once or twice a week, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year. So in order to not ruin a streak that’s lasted a year, here’s a Christmas post I wrote a few years back. And from our family to yours:
This is my favorite time of year. It always has been. I don’t want to seem all sappy or anything, but there is something about Christmas that still seems so magical. Maybe it’s that everyone seems to be nicer, or maybe I just perceive them to be that way.
I heard the other day that economist estimate that Americans will spend this year somewhere around half a trillion dollars on Christmas presents for one another. That’s 500 Billion dollars, or the amount of damage that 9-11 did to the American economy. And what will we buy? Ever heard advertisement that starts off by asking the question, what do you get the person who has everything? And then they proceed to tell you the perfect gift is like a toaster that sings Christmas music while cooking your bread.
I have a better question, Why would you get someone something who already has everything? As much as I love Christmas, it seems like we have changed it for the worse. Why is commercialism and Christmas so tied in together? I have a theory.
God is generous. It says in the book of Acts that God has given us breath, and life, and everything else. And if we are made in his image, we are wired up to be happier when we are being generous. Maybe that’s why we enjoy this time of year so much, because we are living the way we are wired up to. We are being generous.
But why does Christmas morning always feel so empty after we are done exchanging gifts? Is it possible that we know we are giving people junk that they really don’t need? This year my family is trying something different.
When Leslie and I went to India back in August my family decided to give all the money we would typically spend on each other for Christmas to the orphanage in India. My family isn’t rich, but they are rich in so many other ways. As soon as this idea came up my sister and mom started breaking the piggy banks, and my family wound up giving an amount extraordinarily out of proportion with their income. My mom even raised money by telling her friends at McDonalds. So this Christmas, when it is time to give gifts we are all going to sit around in a circle, and Leslie and I are going to get to tell them what their money went to support.
The video is a compilation of some of my favorite clips from Christmas movies. There is something about Christmas that makes us want to give. Maybe it’s because we are celebrating a time when God gave so much.
Maybe it’s because deep down we know that the only way to live a life that is satisfying, is to be generous.
There’s a verse in the Bible that is talking about the early church, and it describes them by saying, “there were no needy people among them.” That’s pretty convicting to me. It’s like the early Christians response to Jesus, wasn’t to just be generous to people for a season, and then resume living a selfish life. But they let it change them permanently.
My favorite movie of all time is, “It’s a Wonderful life.” I think the reason that it resonates so deeply with me is because you see a man who lives a selfless life (George Bailey reminds me of my dad), and in the end when he faces a time of darkness in his own life, everyone responds. There’s a line in this clip where he is called the richest man in town. I think they’re right.
There is a form of wealth that really can satisfy my soul. It’s not about having a nice car or house, but living a life concerned about those around me. Every year I watch this movie and ask myself the question, ‘Have you lived your life well this year?” One day I hope to be able to say yes.
Maybe the reason that the Christmas story has captured so much of the world is because we have this ache in our soul to belong to a bigger story. And even for people who don’t quite believe all of the story, there is something mysterious about this baby in a manger that promises the world more. Maybe our lives could count for something bigger than we have settled for.
Every year I hear people speak in cliche’s about Christmas, and at the risk of being that guy… If God could bring so much joy to the world each year around one day. What could he do, if we gave him the rest of the year? What if my generosity extended beyond just special occasions, but became a way of life? I hope that you have a Merry Christmas. And I hope Bethlehem changes your New Year as well.