Monday, December 19, 2011
For Unto Us a Child is Born
Having a kid at Christmas is great. He will never remember his first Christmas, but I'm still just a little bit excited to see presents from family accumulating under the tree. Presents that I or his dad will open for him, of course. So really, baby's first Christmas is much more about his parents' joy and delight than our child's.
But as the gifts under the tree stack up higher, I am brought again to a subject that I've thought a lot about, as a Christian and now as a parent: What will our family Christmases look like in the future, as (god-willing) more children are added to the brood? Will we tell our children that a fat man in a red suit delivers gifts to them and all other children on Christmas? Will we limit our Christmas celebration to a few gifts under the tree? What about Advent? What about baby Jesus? What about needy kids?
So many things to ponder. I think my hubs and I agree that our kids will not "believe in Santa", in the traditional sense. We like the idea of St. Nicholas, and telling our children about this friendly saint who is the patron of children and gave gold coins to the poor. This, in turn, can be a springboard for shifting our kids' focus from themselves to others at Christmas and always.
On this subject, my husband and I have yet to talk at length, but I think we are already setting a precedent by not buying our baby any gifts for Christmas this year. Well, technically we bought him a doorway jumper way back in October and said, "It can be for Christmas". That was 40 bucks and we haven't spent any more on the little guy. When family wants to shower him with gifts, especially on his first Christmas, I will not object or do anything rash like give all the gifts away to needy kids. But I do think that we will end up perhaps getting one gift for each child in the future and then try and focus on ways to serve needy families in the holiday season.
Of course, as a pastor's family, we will also introduce the birth of Christ as the focal point of the holiday of Christmas, and build into our traditions this important precept. I love the idea of celebrating Advent, or the season leading up to the actual holiday. To me, it imbues the whole month of December with a sense of awe and anticipation to celebrate God becoming a little baby, being born in a manger to a regular Jewish family to be raised among men. (Read a version of the Christmas story here!)
Christmas is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year, and I think as our economy continues to be unstable, people are truly realizing how gross the excesses of holidays past have been. There is a photo circulating on Facebook that juxtaposes shoppers, arms filled with "stuff", with a photo of hungry African children, holding out their hands for a scrap of food. The caption reads, "Define Need". Thought-provoking, humbling, and hopefully brings me to true repentance of materialism and greed all year round.
In the end, for the Christian, this holiday is about our God being born among us as a little child, shedding the glory of His heavenly presence to incarnate in human form. It is mind-boggling, and deserves the sense of awe that many children feel when ogling a tree-full of presents on December 25. For without His birth, there could never be His death.
Without His death, we could never truly have life.