Friday, November 22, 2013

Less is More

I just don't know what to get my kids this year.
They already have everything.
How on earth are we going to buy all of this? 

All of these are sentiments commonly expressed as December approaches each year.  Despite the fact that Christmas rolls around at the same time every year and the fact that so many of us have more than enough as it is, we still stress about what our kids will get for Christmas.  I get it, but then again, I don't get it.  Where did we lose the beauty of Christmas?

I don't know the answer to that, but my goodness, it's getting worse.  Social media can be a lovely way to share experiences with our closest 500 friends, but scrolling a Facebook newsfeed on Christmas morning just sucks the very life out of me.  Have you seen it?  For some reason, posting pictures of our toy-packed trees shares the joy of the birth of Christ like nothing else.  You know, our living and family rooms that are literally packed from wall to wall with more stuff that we don't really need.  Yeah, that's what it's all about, right?

Wrong.  Oh so wrong.  It's not about stuff.  It's about promise and hope and the love of our Father God who stops at nothing to save his children.  It's never been about stuff.  I love the magic of Christmas, I do.  I LOVE the anticipation of that morning.  Our kids have a few gifts from Santa and they are fired up about seeing if Santa indeed delivered as he said he would.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to do those things.  I'm just saying that we can't get lost in that.  It can't be about that. 

Most of us can honestly admit that our kids have more than they need.  My kids are certainly no exception (I'm planning a pretty hefty clean out over the next two weeks).  There are toys that are untouched and forgotten because we have so much already.  Why make it worse? 

A few years back we learned that several friends of ours allow their kids to ask Santa for three gifts each year.  We were blown away by that idea and we implemented it ourselves.  It's changed everything about our Christmas experiences for the better.  We'll never go back.  I'm certainly not saying that our way is perfect, but it works perfectly for us.  We still get to share the fun and anticipation of giving gifts, but it's no longer about the stuff.  It helps us teach our kids that there is no Christmas without Jesus.  It shifts the focus to where it should be.

Somehow we still have family members who think our kids are deprived because it doesn't look like Toys 'R Us threw up in our living room on Christmas morning.  They still don't get it and I don't see how they've missed it after all this time.  We'll remind them of our wishes for less gifting for our kids as many times as it takes.  It makes life easier, it really does.  They don't live in constant expectation of receiving tons of stuff.  There are always plenty of things they wouldn't mind having, but life doesn't revolve around receiving and having things just because they exist. 

There's no greater time to remind our kids what Christmas is all about.  For that matter, it's a great time to extend that same message to apply to life in general.  Life isn't about stuff either.  It's about serving this God who loves us with such unthinkable love.  So, whatever it is you choose to do for Christmas, remember to do it with Christ.  Focus on what matters and not what will fade once the next big toy comes around.  That will be the gift they never forget. 

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