Gift of Christmas

 

It’s December.

Now it is quite permissible to bring out Christmas goodies. Are you listening Marketing companies and Supermarkets?

December = Christmas.

Not the middle of November and certainly not the beginning of October.

 

Photo: Libby opens a present by Andy Eick. CC BY 2.0
Photo: Libby opens a present by Andy Eick. CC BY 2.0

I was talking to a Buddhist the other day about Christmas and asked how she worked around the bombardment of Christmas things. She said that as she was married to a Christian, she celebrated Christmas in her home. Her next statement surprised me. She said that as it is a festival for children, when her son is eighteen she doubts there will be a need to celebrate it.

Christmas, a festival for children?

I thought about it. Christmas certainly was exciting as a child. The build up. The counting down the days. The anticipation of presents. Being able to wear ‘fancy Christmas’ clothes to church. The huge family lunch that lingered into dinner. Screaming around the back yard and playing with my cousins and friends. It was fun and it was family. But was it for the children only?

As an adult, I have to admit that you do lose a little of the anticipation for Christmas. Buying presents out of obligation for people you haven’t spoken to, let alone seen all year. Counting the cost and budgeting. Slaving in the kitchen with the food, cleaning up after.

I understand that Christmas isn’t originally a ‘Christian’ celebration. We assimilated it into our ‘culture’ way back in the ‘dim darks’…and believe me I hear a lot of Christians grizzle about that…and there is the argument that Jesus couldn’t have possibly been born in December as shepherds would have been inside at the time and not out in the snow.

Yeah…so? After all, in Australia we celebrate the ‘Queens Birthday’ in June (unless you’re in Western Australia, where it’s celebrated in September). The current Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, was born in April.

I like to think that Christmas, with the above withstanding, serves as a reminder, or at least it is intended to, that (in the Christian faith) God gave his only Son to the world.

Perhaps Christmas is seen as a ‘festival for children’ because adults bring reasons and excuses not to enjoy it. They focus on the prices of presents instead of the joy in giving them. They gripe about the stress of preparing food for everyone instead of enjoying the moment in conversation with loved ones while they are eating. They whinge about the clean-up instead of making it a communal pitch in. They forget to laugh. To enjoy. To love.

This may come as a surprise to most adults, but you don’t need the presents. You don’t the big lunch. You don’t need to spend lots of money and you don’t need to make it stressful for yourself.

What gifts in your life do you ignore in the everyday grind? Your family? Your children? Your next door neighbour who makes those awful rock hard cupcakes, but who waters your garden and babysits the kids in an emergency? The fact that you have a roof over your head? A car that works? A hobby that satisfies? The gifts of time, effort and mateship?

Christmas is a time to recognise and celebrate the gifts in life that you have been given. Be honest, they are also the gifts that have been ignored in the effort to make Christmas what the glitzy adverts on TV tell you it should be.

Christmas shouldn’t be seen as a ‘festival for children’. It should been seen as a festival for enjoying the gifts you’ve received and the gifts you’ve given. In family, in home, in love and in life.

And not a single cent needs to exchange hands for it.

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