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“And he told them many things in parables…” — Matthew 13:3

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Remembering What Is Holy About Holidays

Children with candlesFollowing Thanksgiving, we hear the annual news reports of people pushing and shoving their way into stores for Christmas shopping specials, and reports on how much our society goes into debt each year for the holiday season. It does seem that the season gets more hectic every year, and the pressure is on to produce the most extravagant parties, buy the best gifts, and win the neighborhood decorating contest at all costs. In that mass of human-made insanity, it’s easy to stop and wonder what has happened to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

This is not a new question. The good news is you don’t have to fall for all the glitz and glamour our culture pushes on us. You can keep the season simple and, in doing so, remember the sacredness of it.

  • Set a limit on how much money you will spend on Christmas gifts. You can either designate a certain amount per person or designate a maximum amount to spend.
  • If you are part of large family, consider drawing names. Instead of purchasing gifts for ten people (or so), you would buy one gift for the person whose name you drew.
  • Limit the number of gifts you will buy for each family member. What child will play with the entire toy store? Select a few gifts you know the child would really enjoy.
  • Give gifts away. Have family members choose a few gifts they want to keep. Donate the rest to service agencies, shelters, and the like.
  • Participate in an alternative gift-giving opportunity: make a charitable donation in people’s names.
  • Do an Advent study together as a family. There are many Advent studies you can choose from. Have a meal together for your study. Commit to having quiet family time: turn off the television, computer, and telephones (including cell phones). Decline any invitations that would conflict with your family time.
  • Keep the number of parties you attend and host to a minimum. Allow yourself time for rest and reflection during the season instead of packing in as many activities as you can.
  • Go to a worship service before opening gifts on Christmas morning. This helps set the tone for the day and remind us why we celebrate Christmas.
  • Remember that the Christmas season continues until Epiphany, January 6. You can spread out celebrations over the season rather than doing it all in one day. You can also continue a family study together. Find a book about Christmas customs around the world and learn how Christmas is celebrated in other ways.