The Reason We Celebrate Christmas

I absolutely love the holidays: the family, the food, the atmosphere, the “busyness with purpose…”  Growing up, and with raising my own children, the gifts of the holidays were more an afterthought. Of course, they were bought with thoughtfulness and care, but we always still kept our focus on the actual reasons for the season: togetherness and, most importantly, CHRIST.

In our home, we actually celebrated two Christmases: December 5th and December 25th.  December 5th is actually when “gift-giving” Christmas is celebrated in Holland and the 25th is reserved for church, family, and food. I loved doing this with our children. Looking back, I think it also helped keep the holidays in perspective: though Denise, Jordan, and Peter did receive a few gifts on Christmas day from American friends and family, they still saw it as a day to celebrate the birth of Christ and importance of community. Their presents were a small bonus and never the focus.

It was and still is quite a shock to realize this is not the norm for many families, especially Christian households. I recall my daughter contacting me after spending time with a boyfriend’s family for Christmas: she was shocked at being asked for a Christmas list of expected gifts (and having several handed to her, along with expected costs written in), and utterly confused at how the meal and family time was more of a second-thought compared to all the “pretty packages” under the tree. Though the family attended church regularly, not a word was mentioned about Christ.

I understand that every family is different and has different traditions, but it is so important to keep in mind the true reason for the season. Though it was unintentional, Ken and I ended up raising our children with a sense of holiday purpose that seems to be disappearing so quickly.

I can’t help but think about Romans 12:2:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Without realizing, we were defying the world and refusing to conform to this new definition of Christmas. To us, it was obvious: Jesus comes first. Christmas is, after all, celebration of His birth. We celebrated His birth, our family and friends, and togetherness. Never once were gifts given the spotlight.I challenge you, friends, to take a look at your own traditions. We are asked to tithe our time, talents, and treasures. Can we not give a small percentage of the holidays to the one who inspired these holidays?

Do not allow the world to conform you to accepting a commercialized holiday but one of appreciating dedication, sacrifice, love, and commitment!I dare you to TRANSFORM your world this season. Remind others of how this is a season of giving, not one of expectations through your own actions.

Volunteer, donate to a charity, contribute to a bake sale, invite someone from work who has no family to join yours Christmas morning, anonymously purchase gifts for a family in need…

In this season especially, I challenge you:  What Would Jesus Do?

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