January 13, 2010

Bad or Good?

2009 1536 7 capT’S A PAGAN HOLIDAY!” “JESUS WASN’T BORN IN DECEMBER.” “IT’S SO commercialized!”

Every year at this time remarks such as these pop up in numerous conversations—and we can’t argue their accuracy. No biblical injunction compels us to honor December 25—or any other day—as the birthday of Christ. And a simple trip to the local department store a few days before the “big event” certainly confirms the claim of “commercialism.” Harried spouses, weary parents, frazzled friends—all competing for the best deal in their search for the “perfect” gift—cram store aisles and jostle for first place in the cashier line. Patience evaporates and tempers flare as many begin to question the sanity of the Christmas holiday.
One person told me he’s decided not to give presents anymore, and has asked that none be given to him in return. “I’m donating the money I would have spent to my church for a special project,” he said. Commendable? Certainly—but is there an acceptable compromise?
Materialism doubtlessly runs rampant, and the drive to buy, buy, buy can overrule common sense, pushing gift givers to use their plastic to get now and pay later—plus interest. Thoughts of the true perfect Gift, the Christ Child, can easily be thrust from our minds by the traffic jams and the unbalanced checkbook. Yet, I love Christmas, because it doesn’t have to be that way!
Inexpensive but thoughtful gifts give so much pleasure. Spending the occasion together as a family can be a wonderful blessing. Helping to prepare meals for those who have no homes, inviting a lonely neighbor to spend the holiday with you, giving a gift to Jesus by contributing to a viable church project—all these are treasured traditions that help make Christmas special.
Christmas can’t be all bad. There’s just too much potential for good. 

Sandra Blackmer is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review. This article was printed December 24, 2009.