Updated: Dec 5, 2020
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It's December---- the time we carry over our grateful November hearts to the Christmas season. The season when we read Dickens' warnings of greed in A Christmas Carol, watch Jim Carrey fail to ruin Christmas by stealing presents, feasts, and decorations, reflect on Jesus' humble beginnings, and buy Airpods Pro at a killer price.
With coronavirus cancelling Black Friday like no worker's rights advocates could before, I've been forced to shop with the other Santa Claus -- Amazon Prime. And as I run out of places to hide packages in our duplex, donate last year's Christmas must-haves to the thrift store and gawk at the price of LOL Surprise Dolls my daughter delights in opening, decapitating, and abandoning on the floor, I'm starting to get into the true "reason for the season" spirit.
A viral Facebook post about gifting kids experiences rather than toys for Christmas proves I'm not alone in resenting somewhat the fleeting enthusiasm Christmas toys bring out in my kids. (There's another part of me, however, that wants to buy a million toys for my kids just to show that viral Facebook post it can't tell me what to do, but that's beside the point.)
Sometimes I wish we could go back to the simple times when little girls asked for a doll, little boys asked for a rifle, and kids were happy to get an orange in their stocking. But, those days are long past, and so I must grapple with the consumerism that has taken over holiday celebrations.
And yet I'm unsure why I continually indulge in the consumerism. After all, I've seen my daughter get more playtime out of a roll of masking tape than her Barbie dollhouse.
She wouldn't even share a strip of it with her little brother, who had to resort to hanging his pictures on the wall with stickers from his clementines.
But, I also remember feeling devastated as a kid for my friends whose parents chose "more meaningful" ways to celebrate Christmas than obscene materialistic spoilage. I enjoyed my materialistic spoilage very much. It even came with batteries.
As a parent now, I'm on the fence (yes, it's as uncomfortable as it sounds). I want to raise unselfish children full of gratitude and humility who celebrate Jesus' birth at Christmastime, but I also want to see their delight upon unwrapping surprises only money can buy.
There's joy in reading the kids' Christmas lists and laughing as I scribble out things like iPhone 11 (Santa doesn't have a contract with Apple) and TV before getting to the requests that Santa could reasonably satisfy. There's also joy in finding gifts they didn't think to add to their lists that I just know they're going to love.
I understand how a pile of Spiderman toys, Barbies, and remote-controlled cars may detract from the real reason for the Christmas season, but I'd argue that presents can also reinforce our attempts to honor the birth of Jesus Christ.
After all, there have been more than a few times in my life where I've recited a list of wants to God and he's scribbled out a few periphery items and added items I didn't think to ask for before making my jaw-drop in surprise when the items miraculously show up. The gifts usually come from other human beings, but I know they're really from God because He's the only One who has my list.
And those moments feel a little like the time I found a purple bike in my living room as a nine-year-old on Christmas morning.
All good gifts come from God -- the most glorious being His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.