This year many children will be disappointed because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them the “right” gift. Television, friends, and even parents can sow the seeds of commercialism in our children year after year, especially during prosperous times. And the high expectations extend not only to gifts, but also to the assumption that all will be well over Christmas—with no job losses, tightened budgets, or reduced holiday travel to deal with.
So what happens when the bubble of prosperity pops? What happens when parents can’t live up to last year’s expectations?
We hear the message every year: don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas. In good times, we can often pay lip service to the idea even while our actions show that our attitudes are still rooted in commercialism. Our children, already inundated, can quickly succumb to the same attitudes. We rush out of Christmas Eve services to get home to open gifts, or we read through the story of Christ’s birth quickly before gifts are opened Christmas morning. And while we may remember to drop an extra offering in the plate, how many of us spend more hours buying and wrapping gifts than we do volunteering to help those in need?
Then, when the economy slips and commercialism is shown to be a fraud, we have a choice: we can cling to our past attitudes and gut other parts of the budget to keep up with the Joneses, or we can take the opportunity to correct any past mistakes and focus on the ever-present reality of Christ’s history-defining mission to earth.
Scripture extols the faith of children (Luke 18:17), so don’t assume your kids can’t get past commercialism. They can understand that Christmas is about the Creator coming to earth, giving up His privileged place, fulfilling prophecy, and paying the ultimate price for our sin.
You may assume your children already know this, but what if they’ve been paying more attention to the “wisdom of the world” than to your words? If (and when) non-Christian friends ask your children who the center of Christmas is, are you confident your children would emphatically answer “Jesus”? Or would they hesitate and wonder if Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, or Charlie Brown is a better answer? And when it comes time to sing Christmas songs together, do your children know the words to “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls”—but stumble through “O Holy Night” and “Away in a Manger”?
Let’s all use this Christmas to return to what Christmas is really about: the Child who came in the manger, Christ who died for us on the Cross, and the Creator—our Savior—who now sits triumphant on the right hand of God the Father.
What Christ Says
In the beginning, I was,1 and before Abraham was born, I AM.2 By Me, all things were created, and through Me, and for Me.3 I am the lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.4
I was sent to earth, born of the seed of a virgin by the Holy Spirit5 as prophesied,6 in little Bethlehem7, a descendant of David.8
Preceded by the messenger,9 I healed the sick10 and raised the dead,11 but I was condemned to the Cross.12 On the third day I rose,13 and am now seated at the right hand of God the Father.14
I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.15 For all have sinned and fallen short of My glory,16 a crime deserving death, but My gift is eternal life.17
I have gone to My Father’s house to prepare a place for you, and I will come again to receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. But no one comes to the Father except through Me.18 All those who come to Me in repentance and faith19 will receive the gift of eternal life.20