In my humble opinion, Christmas has been hijacked by the world. Christmas has become more about gift giving and decorations and Santa Claus and baking cookies and Christmas trees and Christmas movies, than about Christ’s birth. All the traditions that the world has added to Christmas appear so harmless. But are they?
I have been asking myself that question since I began my research on Christmas. I have complained for years that Christmas has been commercialized too much. It seems like “Christmas” has taken on a life of its own. I love watching the Christmas Hallmark movies, but I notice that they focus on the magic of Christmas. While, it’s fun to watch, it also makes me sad that Christmas magic has become such a competitor to the real miracle of Christ’s birth.
Christmas has become a secular holiday. What started out as a religious holiday has been taken over by the world. As Christians it makes our job much harder to remember the manger and its message. Gift giving has become bigger and bigger over the years. In an article from The Week magazine called, “A Brief History of the Christmas Present,” it says, “But when Christmas celebrations became legal in the 1680s, gift giving boomed. Rural Americans carved wooden toys and made pieces of needlework in the agricultural offseason to give to family members and neighbors. The Industrial Revolution saw those handmade items replaced with mass-manufactured trinkets and toys. By 1867, the holiday present industry was healthy enough for Macy’s in New York City to keep its doors open until midnight on Christmas Eve for the first time.” Now we have Black Friday which starts on Thursday!
Jesus has to compete with gift giving and Santa Claus. It is so easy for those things to capture our hearts, especially our children’s hearts at this time of the year. Children love getting presents! I love watching their faces light up as they open each one. I admit looking back that I over-bought at Christmas. I love giving gifts and I wanted my children to know how much I loved them. I equated gifts with love.
What child doesn’t love tales of magic? It seems so harmless. And for the most part I agree that fairytales aren’t bad. It sparks the imagination and gives joy. Fairytales are stories, not real people. I made that clear to my children. However, I encouraged my kids to believe in Santa Claus at Christmas. I knew plenty of Christians who did not. Did Santa Claus become more important to them than Jesus? I wonder?
I believe God is doing a work in my heart. I think he wants me to be more careful in how I approach Christmas. I need wisdom in knowing how to help my grandsons understand that Jesus is better than Santa. That all the presents they receive does not compare to the gift God gave us in his son. I need to help them remember that Jesus is the best reason to celebrate at any time of the year.