A guest post written by Donna Clifton from Whittier, California.
“Christmas is all about getting exactly what you want!”
Believe it or not, those were the actual words in a radio advertisement I heard, and they dismayed me. Although the normal mantra is that Christmas is about giving, not getting, this sentiment is belied by the questions we often hear right after Christmas: “What did you get?” “Was Santa good to you this year?”
The desire to get what we want is natural, but to make that the focus of Christmas obliterates the real meaning of Christmas. We protest that we know it’s all about giving. Unfortunately this kind of giving mainly means shopping, shopping, shopping.
Traditional Christmas gift giving probably won’t change any time soon, but what if we make a more concerted effort to shift the focus back to the true purpose of celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ in this world? What if we did that instead of making Christmas mainly about giving gifts to each other? What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?
One thing my family has done to minimize the gift giving is to have a “secret Santa” exchange of gifts. Rather than everyone buying a gift for every member of the family, we each draw a name and then only get that one person a gift. Even children can participate in this type of giving. This has helped our family focus less on the material aspect of Christmas and more on the spiritual message.
And this spiritual message – the true spirit of Christmas – is to thank God for giving us Christ Jesus. This kind of gratitude is best expressed in deeds, not words – and also leads to a healthier outlook on life.
19th-century health researcher and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Action expresses more gratitude than speech.” She goes on to say: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds. To keep the commandments of our Master and follow his example, is our proper debt to him and the only worthy evidence of our gratitude for all that he has done.”
This Christmas season I have been thanking God for all the good in my life, especially the healings I’ve experienced through reliance on God. I believe God gives us everything we really need – such as His ever present, all-encompassing love. Isn’t that much more meaningful than a new red sweater, a DVD, or an iPad?
I am not just thanking God with words but am striving to express gratitude with unselfish deeds and a more patient, understanding heart. The giving of loving kindness to each other is the most meaningful gift of all. And giving gratitude to God for Christ Jesus is expressing the real spirit of Christmas.