It’s that time again…
The Christmas season can be great. But it can also be a cluster-cuss.
There’s family, friends, and feasting. But there’s also crowded shopping centers and excessive consumerism. In fact, excessive consumerism seems to be a hallmark of this holiday season.
For years I’ve struggled with Christmas. I’ve been so cynical toward it because of the way our culture has defined it that I just couldn’t get into it. Heck, last year I didn’t even put lights on our house, although last year there was a glimmer of hope in my enjoying Christmas again.
I’ve learned that just like in everything else, you have to be intentional in how you choose to celebrate Christmas. If you’re tired on the excess consumerism and stress then just opt-out of “celebrating” Christmas that way. Do it differently with zero care about how everyone else is doing it.
A Few Practical Steps to Take
A Refocused Foundation – Refocus on what truly matters during this season. Yes, I know (and often remind everyone else) that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday and that Jesus wasn’t actually born in December. But when Christians decided to celebrate something during this pagan festival it was Jesus. They restored this pagan celebration. And God is all about restoration and redemption. While we should celebrate Christ every single day and while I agree with N.T. Wright that Easter is actually more important than Christmas, we should still be celebrating Christ during this season. We should partying, feasting, giving, and resting in order to reflect on Christ and all that the incarnation means.
Buy Less – Quite frankly, not everyone you know needs to receive a gift from you. Every extended family member doesn’t need a gift from you. Most of the gifts given and received during Christmas just become clutter. I’m not saying that giving gifts is wrong. I both give and receive them during Christmas. But our gift giving should be intentional. If you choose to give a gift make it personal and meaningful. And I’ll bet personal and meaningful doesn’t come from Wal-Mart. Making your gifts by hand saves you a lot of money and costs you something at the same time. It costs you mindfulness, time, and thoughtfulness. Not great at making things? Buy something handmade from a local artisan or buy fair trade. Opt-out of corporate consumerism, avoid debt, and you can actually give more. Oh, avoid using your credit card during the holiday season. You’ll automatically spend less that way.
Give More – With all this time you’ve saved by avoiding the mall you can actually give more of something that matters. Give more of your time to your friends and family. Host some pot-luck Christmas parties, observe Advent as a family or group, organize ways to spread love, joy, and peace in your community.
Slow Down & Enjoy Christmas Again
As we’re quickly approaching Christmas allow yourself to slow down and reconsider this time of year. Be intentional about it. Sit down with your spouse and family and collectively decide to make Christmas more meaningful this year. Because if you’re the only one on board with a simpler Christmas then you’ll just become kind of a scrooge.
What steps have you taken in recent years to simplify and restore the Christmas season?