I loathe it. I dread it with every part of my being. It has been an inner, personal battle raging in my soul for so many years and finally, this year, I couldn't take the battle anymore.
And I spoke it out loud.
I announced to my family that Christmas Day would be different this year. And then I told them I didn't like the tradition of Gift Giving and exchanging presents during Christmastime.
Yes...their mouths gaped just like yours.
I have tried to analyze "why" this tradition causes me such angst. Here is what I came up with:
1. The amount of time it takes to accomplish all the shopping, wrapping, and exchanging. When I count ALL the gifts needed, it is an unbelievable amount of time involved. For years, I have carried the majority of this task alone making the job even more stressful.
2. The amount of money involved for ALL the gifts. Even if you shop "smart", meaning with sales, discounts, coupons, etc, it still involves money.
3. The amount of time and money to RECOVER from spending time and money preparing to exchange gifts.
4. The kicker for me.....the point that causes me the most distress is this ----- it takes me away from serving others....from giving of myself and my resources to those who are in need.
THIS IS WHERE THE BATTLE RAGES IN MY SOUL.
For I am reminded that my Savior, who we celebrate at Christmas, He came into the world to save those who are in need. He didn't come so I can inundate my family with gifts. He came so I could serve my family, so I could love my family sacrificially, and also so I would reach out to a lost and dying world as well.
BUT, if I am so stressed and tied up with having to purchase gifts, when to do I have time to serve? when do I have time to share Christ with others?
So this year, our Christmas Day WAS different. No waking up to stockings, gifts, breakfast casserole. Instead....
After about 3.5 hours of sleep (due to baking cookies late on Christmas Eve), we got up early (5:45 am) and went downtown to a local center to help with breakfast (and bring those cookies we stayed up late baking!) They had one other volunteer scheduled for this morning plus our familiy of 4 to help serve. My kids jumped in and served (even wore hairnets!) as we were reminded that Christmas is about God coming to earth in the form of a man so that ALL can be saved. The ground at the base of that cross is level.
In other words, it could be our family on the other side of this serving line.
And we would want someone to help us, to reach out to us, to love us.
After church, we celebrated Christmas in a much different way then the previous 17 years.
And it was good.
Will we do this next year? I don't know.
But this year, it was right. It was what we needed to do individually and as a family.
Maybe I didn't ruin Christmas after all....maybe I just tilted it a bit?