The lights are hung, stockings are eagerly waiting to be stuffed, shopping malls are buzzing with hurried feet; as last minute gifts are being purchased. Each slot of the TV guide is lined up with holiday shows, retailers are flashing get-it-before-its-gone sales, and kids are pouncing on Santa's lap to claim the newest gadget or gizmo.
All the money saved, the stress, and the anticipation... we're almost there. Christmas is just around the corner.
"But we have 6' inflatable Santa's, cookies, trees, a nativity set up on the front lawn." you're thinking.
"good grief, Charlie Brown," I think to myself.
Trust me, I'm well past the age of watching children's cartoons, but I cant help make the the reference. The world is so caught up in "today's commercialized Christmas" and we tend to forget what Christmas is all about.
Let's rewind a bit. I didn't grow up in church. In fact, I have very little religious background. So, what do I know about the history of Christmas? Humility- my heart is full of humility. My first Christmas' were filled with love and very little of the material things we expect today. My family started their first Christmas' together thousands of miles away from "home," with no decorations or the fancy new-fangled things that make up today's Christmas. Thankfully, I had a creative, loving, innovative mother that wouldn't let anything get in the way of providing the spirit of Christmas in our hearts. We created lasting memories through time together, baking, and creating- together. We would string popcorn one-by-one until our tree was adorned with a one-of-a-kind garland. We would hand make each and every ornament for our tree- many of which still hang on my mother's tree today. Christmas carols blaring mixed with laughter, scents of cinnamon and mulled spices filled the air. To me, these are Christmas. Jesus wasn't always the center of our Christmas. However, I was blessed with a true golden foundation of humility and love.
Imagine, if you will, living among sheep. The smell, the lackluster company. You are a Shepherd. In the time of the upcoming birth of Jesus, shepherds weren't people that had money, jewels, fancy things, they weren't poplar among others. I even imagine them as people that others would completely avoid at all costs. These were the people God chose to spread the word of Jesus Christ's birth- Our Savior. (Luke 2: 8)
Today, we go all out for the arrival of a new baby. We buy 1,000 of the most obnoxious things for our newest little bundle of joy. Why? Because every 7 lb, 7oz baby needs 37 saddlers, 50 wash cloths, 15 pacifiers, bouncy things, squishy things...no. However, we all do it; we're all guilty. So, naturally, Jesus Christ, our Savior, must have these same luxuries. Right? No. God sent Jesus to be laid in a feeding trough/previously used manger (Luke 2: 12) I truly believe God wants us to believe and live in humility through these versus.
I have grown up with out a lot of extra frivolous things (Dare I say, Poor.) And I am thankful for the empathy through experience that I have had instilled into my mindset.
So, how do we have a humble Christmas today?
Charles M. Schulz illustrated it so well:
Here is where I am supposed to have a grand solution to change your heart. I don't have that, but the answer is simple: Experience the thrill of hope. " being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."- Philippians 1:6. I love that God was working through me even before I knew him. I was instilled with humility even before I knew I was living like his word. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." - 1 Corinthians 2:2. Let hope rise within you. Step away from today's world and look towards God and Jesus Christ. Pray today and let Jesus into your life. Step away from the commercialism this year and know the reason for this season..
A wise woman, my mom, once said, "The real treasures of Christmas are the memories we make and the traditions we keep." And when we understand and live through God's word, we will be able to be humble Christians. As, I believe, God wants us to be. (reference: Matt 11:29)
Some ways to have some last minute humbling experiences this Christmas:
Don't JUST give to the poor and homeless. Shake their hand, ask how their day is, have a casual conversation with them. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter, coat drive, and food pantry. You will be surprised that these people sometimes need something as little as a hug.
Get your family members one less gift and ask your local school about an angel tree, gift drive, etc. Sometimes it's easy to overlook the need right in your own community.
Attend local holiday events. Get to know your community members. This will give you the chance to spread God's love and you may just learn a thing-or-to yourself.
Remember to set aside to time to just be with your family this Christmas; Talk to each other, tell stories, laugh, and make memories.
Attend church! Learn about true meaning of Christmas.