Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Reason for the Season

So maybe it is just my constant desire to be contrary but I keep thinking about how Christmas is really about the "getting" and not the "giving."  Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of finding more ways to give during the Christmas season and I appreciate the efforts of the such things as the Advent Conspiracy to help us find new ways to give to others at Christmas ... but is that really the message of Christmas?  Is it really about what give or instead about what we receive.

I have been told that I am hard to shop for.  I never understood this since I can always think about more things that I want.  What I have realized over the years is that while I do a good job of thinking about these things I don't actually do a good job of asking for them.  I know what I want ... but I don't let other people know.  So instead of being easy to shop for I become a challenge.  I don't like to ask for gifts probably because I buy into this idea that is not about what we get but instead about what we give.  Receive things seems greedy while giving is something that is selfless and my parents raised me to be a giver.  Christmas is not really about giving though ... it is about what we receive.

I am not saying we need to give in to companies like Amazon that barrage us with daily attempts to get our money.  I am not saying we solely judge our Christmas by how large a stack of gifts we get.  I am saying we need to do a better job of thinking not just about what we give but what we receive.  Not just about about we can do for others but what we need for ourselves.  If we look at the story of Christmas it is about a great gift and it is not as much about the giver but about everyone who receives it.  In the story of Christmas we are meant to identify with the people who receive the gift (humanity) not he giver (God).  For some reason we forget this at times.  Christmas actually is about getting a gift.  Two thousand years ago I suspect that people knew what God could give them ... freedom from the Romans for one thing.  If you think the IRS is bad, imagine having to travel somewhere else AND then pay your taxes on top of it.  Do we know what we want from God this year?  Have we though about what we need?

Obviously God does not give us everything we ask for (that's what Santa is for).  If we never ask anything of God though, are we letting God be the great giver for us?  If we make Christmas all about what we give to others do we try to replace God?

Now I just need to get around to actually writing my Christmas list ...


Linda said...

Thanks for some important things to think about. I like the idea of focusing on and appreciating what we are receiving.

Zee Lemke said...

Like. I should start reading your blog again.

Receiving gifts is an act of humility: accepting that there are some things you want that you can't afford, and acknowledging others' superiority and ability to provide for you.

In this season of charity, this post is a good reminder to accept charity from people you think of as objects of charity, and I don't mean that warm fuzzy superior feeling you get from being nice to someone.