“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold and frankincense and myrrh,” Matthew 2:11
All over this land, we Pentecostal parents will watch our children enact the above scene in our Christmas programs.. Touched but not changed; we will then follow the crowd to department stores to charge items for which we do not have the cash, for expensive gifts our children do not need.
Christmas morning, we proudly look at all the beautiful packages and anticipate the warm feelings of thanks we will receive as our children open their presents. We have once again proven our love by the price of the toys.
Something strange then happens. The children grab for the packages with their names – most of them already know what they are getting, for we asked them earlier what they wanted. They rip off the beautiful gift wrap, glance at the present, give us the expected hug – put it quickly with their growing pile of loot and return expectantly waiting for their next present.
Where is the surprise? Where is the joy?
A few minutes later they will ignore their spoils to play with the empty boxes and torn paper. We, in turn, are left with an empty feeling. Something is not quite right about what we have just experienced. All the spending, all the planning, all the expectation, and then -so quickly over. We somehow are left with the feeling that our children do not really appreciate our sacrifice. We are right.
What have we taught them through all this?
As they take these new gifts to their room which already looks like Toys-R-Us, we are teaching them the lesson that Christmas is for getting things. We are teaching them they can get what they want, not by struggle nor by sacrifice, but rather by manipulating parents and adults.
Let us, rather, give our children a gift they will never forget. Let us give them a gift of ourselves and of our time – not a gift of things. How can we do this?
- By simplifying Christmas and by taking the expense and stress out of this very special family day.
- By doing something unexpected – like playing in the snow.
- By giving a gift made with our own hands.
- By inviting in someone who is lonely to share our bounty.
- By visiting a “shut in” together.
- By giving them a certificate for breakfast out with us – alone.
- By loving their Mother.
- By going to church together to worship Jesus – on this His birthday
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