In just two weeks our nation will be celebrating Christmas. More often than not Christmas is celebrated under a Christmas tree. Millions will be gathering to exchange gifts. For those of us with children still in the home, we hope to shower them with gifts to show them how much we love them. (Yes, I know that grandparents do the same thing). And while I would normally say that is a good thing, we need to be careful about what we are teaching our children, grandchildren, and in turn others, about this holiday.
While this is not meant to be a diatribe against Santa Claus, I do want you to consider these thoughts. The other day I watched a Disney Christmas cartoon starring Goofy. I think it was from the 90s when their was a Goofy TV show. While it shared with the children a valuable message about giving hope to others and sharing with others, something clicked in my mind. Goofy, who was portrayed as the typically middle class family in America. He and his son were helping a under privileged family. As the two boys were talking, they discussed what they had hoped Santa would bring them for Christmas. Goofy’s boy was hoping for a super special snow board, that likely cost a great deal of money based upon all the bells and whistles that was supposed to be attached to it. The other boy was hoping for another toy car like he got last year. Not surprising to me, Santa tends to give wealthy kids more expensive presents than he does the poorer children. This is not to say that you cannot give your children a really nice gift (I would be a hypocrite if I taught that). What I am saying is that you ought to be mindful about what you teach your children Christmas is all about.
It seems that more and more Christmas had become rather commercial and about what it or is not under the tree. Jingle All the Way, a Christmas movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was about a father trying to get the hottest toy that year. The mad dashes of Black Friday sales, the rush to the latest store that may or may not have it created mass chaos and showed how insane people can be over a toy that they think their kid has to have in order to be happy. Does this describe your home? Has the Christmas shopping season turned into the Christmas hunting season where you have convinced your children that the only way a child’s Christmas is complete is if they get exactly what they asked for? For instance, how many movies have you seen where the parents discuss the year they stopped believing in Santa Claus? They usually discuss that they ceased to believe because they didn’t get what they really wanted. The kid couldn’t handle the disappoint over a toy, a game, a doll, or whatever and just ceased to believe. They had to have parents that fed this “disease.”
My hope every year is to bring joy to my children’s lives. My hope every year is to help the children get a little something that they really enjoy. (In our home, it is the only time they really get toys). But, with that said, I want my children to remember that the greatest thing about this time of the year is not the gift sitting under the tree, but the time spent with those sitting around the tree.
The bible has a great deal to say about materialism. In my humble opinion, no greater statement was said about materialism than what our Lord and Savior said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul (Matt. 16:26)?” Our children could have the greatest Christmas in the history of all Christmases. They could have every toy that they ever wanted. They could have the greatest off all toys sitting under the tree (or for me to have the keys to the greatest gift I could have been given). But, if they end up loosing their souls as a result of it, what have they learned? What have they gained?
They gained only the toy and they learned that materialism is the way of life that they should live. This holiday season, be certain that while they do get a gift or many gifts that the greatest gift ever given was Jesus on the cross. Remind them that what really matters is not the toy, not the tablet, or new phone. Remind them that their relationship with God is of greater importance. Remind them of who really gave the gift. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17) and “Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God (Ecc. 5:19).”
Grinnell church of Christ
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The Blight of Materialism
Volume 7 Issue 48