Christmas and the Renewing of Your Mind

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
We all fight it. That inevitable madness that descends on all Americans around the 26th of November. We watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade interspersed with million-dollar commercials urging us to “come early!” (with credit card in hand, of course) and our eyes begin to be dazzled by the pretty images and “insane” deals offered by the myriad retail establishments eager to put you deeper in debt in order to dig out of their own debt. Is it just me, or have those flashy ads shown up earlier and earlier every year?
Even while our minds are telling us how un-Christian Christmas has become, our eyes still can’t turn away from the shiny new this for Johnny or the newer model of that for Suzie. Yep, they’re shiny alright. and cool, and you would be the coolest parent on the block if you gave in to the pull and fulfilled your kid’s wildest Christmas dreams. Don’t.
What and who are you really doing it for? Fast-forward to Christmas morning. the living room floor is littered with the paper mayhem that has just occurred and your kids and loved ones are sitting there in empty disappointment at what they DIDN’T get or even how underwhelming the new this or that really is now that it’s in their hands. And if you are fortunate enough to actually fulfill their Christmas wishes, it’s only temporary. In a day, a week, a month or maybe a little more, their eyes will be scanning the store isles, television commercials and the bedrooms of friends to find the next new thing they need to lust after.
I suppose there’s lots of clever and more Christian-like alternatives you can engage in to replace this orgy of greed and disappointment on Christmas day. A good Google search on the subject will, no doubt, lead you to more ideas than you can possibly read.
There’s the visit to the soup kitchen idea; a noble venture but more than likely their volunteer roster has a waiting list by the time you get there. The simple gift idea is also a favorite, but still it leaves all concerned wishing for the over-done Christmases of the past. I’ve even read of a family that bought all the things they really wanted for Christmas and then gave those presents to families that had no presents for Christmas. I rather like that one, but there again, most kids would just assume that “next Christmas, mom and dad will get over their madness and we’ll get a normal Christmas.”
So, what’s sustainable? What can we do to renew our thinking on the Christmas orgy and build a new and lasting tradition that is more in line with the mind of the guy who’s birthday it is anyway? How about honesty? What if you sat your family down and declared your intention of not participating, this year or any future year, in the madness that Christmas has been made into? What is the worst that could happen?
You’ll have more money in your savings account than probably every one of your neighbors. You’ll also have less credit card debt. You will have saved a poor defenseless tree, not to mention all that wrapping paper that comes from trees, and don’t even get me started on all of the wasted gas, time, energy, and Scotch tape!
You will also save yourself the stress and competitiveness of trying to get the best gift and the best decorated house, and the best feast. You will no longer be on that treadmill that inexorably leads to the post-Christmas blues that follow the big day and because you no longer are chained to that idea, you are now open to the possibilities of what Christmas really CAN be.
I’m not going to lay out a list of things to do instead of what everyone else is doing. I’ll leave that up to you and your family to figure out for themselves; but ask you to stop being conformed to the world and it’s madness and transformed by the One, who came into this world not to make us slaves to the world but free from it.
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