If there ever was a season that embraces extravagance, it’s Christmas. Which is odd, since the first Christmas was marked by anything but indulgence. How does the birth of a baby who spent his first night in a feeding trough yield opulent, over-the-top celebrations 2,000 years later?
Once again, my heart yearns for a simplicity that will allow me to truly enjoy the “reason for the season.” I know I’m not alone. Magazines woo their readers with articles such as “Reduce Holiday Stress,” “10 Ways to Simplify Christmas,” or “Reclaim the Real Meaning of Christmas.”
Are we fooling ourselves? Not that we can’t simplify Christmas, focusing less on the commercial and more on the spiritual. That’s a reasonable goal. But are we fooling ourselves when we use the word simplify?
When we talk about simplifying Christmas, it often means we’re putting up one string of lights instead of three. Or cooking one turkey instead of a turkey and a ham. Or if we’re really spiritual, we might limit our family gift exchange to one gift per person.
Perhaps the problem is not simplifying what we do but why we do it.
- Are we putting up lights because we don’t want to be the only dark house on Christmas eve or because we’re celebrating the birth of the Light of the World?
- Do we prepare a feast because the family expects it or because it’s the birthday of the Bread of Life?
- Do we give gifts because people will be disappointed if we don’t or because we’re celebrating the greatest Gift of all—the Savior who gives the gift of salvation?
Enjoy this Christmas season—the lights, the food, the people, the gifts. But be intentional about doing it for the right reasons. Let the children in our life see that our celebration is not to impress people, but to express our joy for the birth of the Son who restores us to the Father.
Simplifying Christmas is a good idea. Let’s begin with our motives!