Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas and gift-giving

I was reading an article recently about Christmastime as it is currently celebrated in the U.S., that really religion (or faith) has very little to do with our modern Christmas celebration. Christmas has become so wholly commercialized, so totally focused on gifts, Christmas trees and a long vacation, that the whole religious foundation of it all is at best an afterthought.

Of course, I was rather appalled at the conclusions of the author, but it did give me reason to pause and think whether he might actually be more accurate than I'd want to admit. How much impact, really, does the reality of the birth of Jesus have in general culture? More personally, how much do I also get wrapped up (pardon the pun) in gifts and (after an insane Christmas event season) a time to kick back over a glass of eggnog, and the fragrance of a Christmas cinnamon/apple candle, and just rest?

Not that resting is wrong, of course, but how much does the reality of the divine, supernatural invasion of the Christ child dominate my thinking? What does it change in my life? God with us. What a concept! Do I really believe it?

Yesterday, in family devos, we talked about how it is better (more blessed) to give than to receive. We also commented that we don't give so we feel good about it, we give because God gave, and gives, and is the maximum model of generosity. He loved, so He gave, and not what He had left-over in his closet or pantry. He gave the most precious relationship that He had...His Son.

This year, we gave our kids a "gift list." Here it is:

____ Bible (2)
____ Chair for church (2)
____ Food items (1)
____ Hockey stick (1)
____ Basketball jersey (2) Click HERE for more info.

____ Gift (1)
____ Gift (1)
____ Gift (2)
____ Gift (2)
____ Gift (3)

Then we gave the kids the opportunity to pick. The first part of the list are gifts for others. The second are gifts for themselves (with different values). Each kid gets 10 "points," each point being around $10-12, and they can designate how they desire to use their points. A 1 point "tithe" is built into the system, although in the case of Daniel, Cathy and David, they decided to give 20%, 50% and 50% of their points to others.

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