There is a sliver of me that doesn't want to give any gifts this Christmas. At least to my family. It's not because I don't think they deserve gifts, or that they've been "bad" in some way. I have a wonderful family. And, it's very true when God says that we love to give good gifts to our children. No, that sliver of me just wishes that Christmas wasn't what it turned out to be.
When my big kids were little, I was determined not to allow culture to turn my little Christian sponges into stuffmongers during the holiday season. But stuffmongerism is so deeply ingrained that, like everyone else, I found myself, year after year, list in hand, trekking from store to store for the elusive Magazord, the perfect baby doll, or wrestling with the desire to buy authentic Uggs instead of the Payless brand.
It is seriously agonizing, this desire to please through Christmas gifts. The joy of giving is alive and well, but there is a pall that descends that feels like guilt, or anxiety, or guilty anxiety. Did I buy enough, the right color, size, brand, version, style, capacity...my mind spins with it. Then, when I am almost satisfied that I have fulfilled all of the specifications, and the imagined Christmas Day conversations are gushing with appreciative delight, my husband's maddeningly practical still small voice interrupts my bliss with, "How much did we spend this year?" The guilty anxiety returns and the wrestling match resumes.
I'm not thinking this is what the point of that night in the little back room of the cave home in Bethlehem was. But here we are, immersed in the American Christmas. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Alas, that little sliver of me will not win out. I will shop. I will spend too much. I will wrestle with desire and practicality. I will delight in giving on Christmas morning. But, as I act like an American at Christmas, one thing will hold. I will always remember, even at the mall, or while clicking "Add to Cart," that the reason for all of this obscene glitz, marketing, and spoilage, is that God loved us so much that He left His splendor and majesty to make it possible for us to be His stuffmongers, imperfect in every way, but loved, cherished, and saved just the same. That tiny baby with the furrowed brow, later endured the agony of thorns upon it, so we could later wear a crown upon ours. "If ever I loved thee, Lord Jesus 'tis now."