Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)
- TITLE: Whose birthday is it?
By Karen Lucille Gross
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Whose Birthday is it?
Our society loves Christmas. It also loves Halloween. To me, this seems rather schizophrenic. Valentine’s Day is big here, as is Easter – although only in chocolate bunny form. I haven’t seen too many crucifixion scenes displayed in public places. In fact, I think it is actually illegal in some public places – something about political correctness and tolerance for everything except public displays of Christianity. Religion is supposed to be a personal, private affair.
The common element in the holidays that get celebrated in a big way is the gift factor. We love to give and receive gifts. Very materialist, this culture of ours. We especially love to give gifts to our children, and they seem to appreciate this priority.
Even adults are subject to peer pressure when it comes to celebrating materialistic holidays. Retailers take much advantage of this peer pressure. As soon as Halloween is over, the Christmas displays go up. After the Christmas rush is over, and the half price ornaments have been scooped up by those shoppers who derive much satisfaction in starting early for next year, the shelves are cleared of any remaining Christmas stuff to make way for the heart-shaped red boxes and chocolate in every imaginable form for Valentine’s Day. After that comes the Easter chocolate gorge. You get the idea. We seem to be fond of celebrating with chocolate – of which I have no objection. Chocolate comes from a bean, as does coffee, which makes beans my favourite vegetable.
I grew up in a small town with a strong Mennonite influence. I attended Sunday School, and I was certainly taught the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas. And yet (this is painful to confess), the first time I saw my mother-in-law bring out a birthday cake complete with candles after our Christmas dinner, I asked: “Whose birthday is it?” I still can’t believe I didn’t make that connection.
Unfortunately, I am not alone in this disconnection between celebrating the birth of Christ and the increasingly secular version of this holiday. We Christians join in with everyone else at the malls, wearing ourselves out to make sure not to miss anyone on our gift giving list. We feel the pressure to give gifts to everyone from whom we expect to receive a gift. No one wants to get the reputation of being a ‘Scrooge’.
We create little materialist monsters of our children by attempting to make sure that they get what they want. The message that they are learning from our culture is that they should be making a list of everything their little hearts desire and sending it to Santa Claus. As ubiquitous as that generous mythical creature is, he certainly does not come through with the goods. As every parent who has played Santa Claus knows, those gifts were all bought, paid for, and wrapped by yours truly.
So why do we do it? Why do Christians get caught up with everyone else, stressing ourselves and our pocket books out trying to celebrate Christ’s birth by purchasing all of the gifts that we feel socially obligated to give? How do we get off this demanding merry-go-round – or should we get off? I can just imagine the reaction in our home if the pile of gifts under the tree is not at least as high as last year. And, admit it, don’t you feel at least a twinge of disappointment to receive one of those cards that informs you that a gift has been given to (insert name of charity here) in your name.
This being in the world but not of the world is a very tricky doctrine to live out. No one wants to be the one to take a stand and return the Christmas holiday to a strictly religious observance. No child wants to have a parent who takes that stand! But let’s not toss the baby out with the straw. Is it possible to exchange gifts on Christ’s birthday while giving Him the worship and glory He deserves? I am going to try it this year.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be right now. CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.