“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
For years I called myself the grinch; I even had some Christmas shirts I would ware this time of year with the Grinch on the front in a celebration of my distaste for Christmas. I would celebrate my negative attitude by making jokes and I would justify it with complaints about how Christmas had lost its message amidst the commercialization, the emphasis on Santa, and the selfishness we taught kids.
I wasn't necessarily wrong. There is certainly some truth in all of that. Many people do ignore the true meaning of Christmas, but let's be honest, those people probably aren't going to change their minds about Christmas simply because I complain about it. Let's keep Christ in Christmas, but let's do it by showing the generosity, grace, love, and peace that the Christmas story communicates. Let's do it by exemplifying the character of Christ in our own lives. Who needs to see the love and generosity of God that we find in the Christmas story? More specifically, who do you know and how can you be instrumental in showing that to them?
Christmas has been monetized by toy companies, card companies, and the Hallmark channel (which is constantly on at my house this time of year). That doesn't mean I have to emphasize that at my house. In fact, it presents some opportunities for me to raise my kids in a different manner. Instead of teaching your kids to make lists of things they want to get, how about teaching them to be generous to others by giving away some used toys and some new ones to charity?
Frankly, I still struggle with the Santa thing. We haven't really talked about Santa in our house, we have no decorations that are "Santa" decorations. We told our kids the truth from the time they were young, but we also taught them tolerance for others who chose to pretend. We taught them not to ruin it for others. We even took them to see Santa a couple times with others. Whatever decision you make about Santa is obviously up to you, but you don't have to ruin it for others. For me Santa confused things and I didn't want my kids to be confused about Christmas.
The end of this story is that I have repented from my Grinchness. I love Christmas. I love that it gives me an opportunity to talk about Jesus. I love that it reminds me and my family of the generosity of God, the love of God, the forgiveness of God, and the sacrifice Jesus made by emptying himself and taking out human flesh (Phil. 2). So now I decorate, listen to Christmas music (both secular and Christian), and encourage others to embrace Christmas. You don't have to love the commercialization of Christmas, but stop complaining and use it as an opportunity to talk about the true meaning of Christmas. Live a life characteristic of the savior who made himself known to a lost and dying world on that first Christmas over 2000 years ago, but stop complaining.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.