What’s sad? When the “most wonderful time of the year” turns into the “most selfish time of the year.” Without a doubt, the most opportune time to teach selflessness and to be selfless is the season of Christmas. Yet for many of us Christmas turns into a grand spectacle of me, me, me. Is this what God intended the birth of His Son to produce in us? It seems that for many of us, we have Christmas all wrong – but tragically for many of us we don’t seem to care too much that we do.
Take for example your earliest memories of Christmas – they probably aren’t focused on using the season as a tool to make an incredibly selfless impact in the lives of others. Rather, your memories are probably reflecting presents, presents and more presents. That’s because kids are hardwired to be selfish, and the atmosphere that our North American culture creates during December simply feeds the selfishness monster that resides within each of us. We’re not helping our kids by taking 30 days in the year to reflect on all the things that they want and probably not even remotely need. How is it selfishness gets a pass in December?
So, maybe for those of us who have the opportunity to influence our kids or influence youth our perspective should be different. If we could reboot ‘Christmas’ and do it all over again, what things might we change to produce a December environment filled with states of the ‘heart’ that look a little more honouring to the Lord? What might we do different?
- We would stop asking the incredibly selfish question “What do you want for Christmas?”
Just stop and ask yourself this question: “Is the Christmas season about me?” If it’s not, then why do we teach our kids to focus on them and their wants during December? It’s really kind of sad when you think about it. Is this the better question to ask our kids, students or youth group attendees: “What do you want to give for Christmas?” I don’t think this should just be a trendy try-a-new-question approach…I think this teaches a valuable lesson for kids and students. If the question is reversed during the holidays to make it not about them and all about others, and we’re all committed to doing that in our youth/family units, then everyone is going to get ‘covered’ by the gift question anyway. I’ve actually tried this at home – and it worked out just fine.
- We would stop making ‘presents’ the climax of the Christmas season.
We can’t really blame our kids for this – we have created family environments at Christmas time that build towards 2 hours on Christmas morning. We have created the post-present blues. We have made it that the ‘falling action’ is what happens after the last gift is open. How so? Because our kids are kids. They can’t help themselves to equate all the stuff they see under the tree to be Christmas. So when that stuff is gone – Christmas is essentially closed. Again…this isn’t necessarily our kid’s faults – we have created and encouraged this methodology. But – what if we didn’t make Christmas Day about gifts? What if we decided to get all radical and make another day in the Christmas season about the stuff under the tree and allow Christmas Day to stand alone? Wouldn’t that completely change the dynamic of Christmas Day? Now, you might say, “Well, that wouldn’t make Christmas Day very fun.” Hmmmmm…let what you just said sink in for a few minutes, and then ask yourself aloud “Is this where we have allowed this special day to devolve to?” What might be a good alternate activity on Christmas Day? Keep reading….
- We would make good strategic use of Christmas Day.
Talk about a perfect opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others – is there a better time of the year when people are more open to benevolence? Think about your town and how much pain and sadness exists on Christmas Day for any number of reasons. All the things you and I probably take for granted on Christmas Day (family stability, a good meal, enjoying the peace of other’s company) for many families those things would be the best gift they could receive on Christmas Day. Some of what we may enjoy (domestic stability, for example) can’t be really be reproduced (that I know of – if you have a create idea, let me know), but other things such as making sure a family in need has a hot Christmas meal or going to your local soup kitchen and volunteering can be very helpful and make a significant impact. It gets the focus off of ‘me’ and puts it where it should be at Christmas: others. Sure – it’s a radical new approach – but it doesn’t mean you can’t have some special family memories of your own…but do those memories have to be on Christmas Day, THE day that can be used to easily serve others? I hear turkey tastes just as good on the 26th as the 25th.
So – how about it? Share some of your thoughts as to how you’re going to make this season a memorable selfless time of the year….