I have always tended toward being a classic over-doer, over-spender, over-committer, especially when it comes to Christmas.
Quite a few years ago now, the church we attended changed our focus of Christmas. They introduced an organization called Advent Conspiracy, whose goal it is to shine a light on all the extravagance and over-indulgence that happens typically over the holiday season, and replace it with a focus on Jesus. They encourage people to redirect their financial resources to dig wells to provide fresh water to those in third world countries, filling their most basic of needs.
That advent season really challenged us to step back and take a good look at the extravagance, the abundance, the waste.
The next Christmas looked different. When I asked my kids what one thing that we can make or do over the holidays that is meaningful to them I was amazed by the simplicity of their answers. They didn’t mention any expensive presents. They didn’t mention fancy Christmas parties or matching new outfits. They didn’t even mention the video games that I spent hours in line for on Black Friday.
They did mention harvesting our tree from the National Forest. Making peanut butter cookies with kisses in them. Wearing elf hats. Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning.
Simple. Christmas. Why did I spend so much time, energy and money on this holiday? Considering that the things that mean the most to my family is our time together, good food, simple traditions.
I still don’t always get this right, but I can take a clue from Mary. The Christmas account in Luke 2 says that “Mary treasured all these things, giving careful thought to them and pondering them in her heart.” How can I truly treasure the gift given to us through the baby Jesus…how can I give careful thought to the events of Christmas…how can I ponder all these things…if I don’t even have a minute?
I want to make Christmas special for my family, I want to honor our traditions, but above all that I want to honor Jesus through how we celebrate. Maybe it’s cutting back on gifts and contributing to Advent Conspiracy. Maybe it’s forgoing our own Christmas dinner to serve at a shelter. Maybe it’s inviting someone into your home who might otherwise be alone this Christmas.
It might be too late for you to make a major change this Christmas. But I want to encourage you to think about it. Discuss it with your family this year as you sit around the table. Ask yourselves – what are our most meaningful traditions? Are there activities that we do or gifts that we buy that are extravagant or unnecessary? Could we redirect our time, energy, or finances over the holidays to help others?
I promise, no matter where the discussion leads, we will all still celebrate an extravagant and abundant Christmas.
There is extravagance in God’s daily blessings and provision for each one of us. And the love He has shown us by sending Jesus to us is so great, so deep, and so wide. There is nothing more abundant than that.