The Meaning of Christmas - For Me

Christmas time is such a joyous time of the year, right?

There are so many memories in my mind and heart when I think about Christmas as a child? I remember sitting at my grandparent's kitchen bar and eating pizza and pickled bologna with cheese and crackers. I remember playing Barbie Dolls at the top of their staircase with my cousins and dropping objects through the big open vent in the upstairs bedroom, which would land on an aunt or uncle who would then yell at us. I remember getting in the chilly car after we were all tired and worn out, driving the short distance home, getting in our pajamas and lying awake trying to catch Santa delivering our presents.

I have little recollection of toys I received as a child for Christmas, except one. It was a Cabbage Patch Doll named Beatrice Rhoda who had brown hair and green eyes. I loved that Cabbage Patch Doll with a love that only a little girl can have for her favorite baby doll. I also received a lot of the accessories to go with her like the portable clip-on highchair, stroller, and car seat. She went everywhere with me. I remember the anticipation of waiting to see if it was a Cabbage Patch Doll under the tree because the shape of the package was shaped just like the box in the store. I just knew with without a doubt there would be a Cabbage Patch Doll inside that box on Christmas morning.

Christmas time is, and probably always will be, my most favorite time of the year. I am the person who is playing my Christmas music in October at the first sign of a cool frosty morning. I love the sparkle of Christmas lights, the beautiful decorated Christmas trees, Christmas dinners, and obviously, Christmas music. Did I mention my birthday is also two days before Christmas? Yeah, I was brought home in a big red stocking, for real.

As I have grown into adulthood and had my own child, I now look at Christmas time with a different set of eyes and values.

I feel like the most wonderful time of the year has turned into people who injure each other trying to purchase material things on Black Friday, families fighting and arguing over who will hold the holiday gathering this year, and credit cards accumulating more debt than a family can pay off. And don't forget all the shiny, cheap, little, plastic toys brought into your already too crowded home, gifted to your already too spoiled children, who already have more than they need to play with.

Christmas has become a competition.

A competition to make sure that you purchase a better gift for your child than their grandparents get them. A competition to see who can make the most Pinterest-worthy craft for your child's homeroom teacher, piano teacher, Sunday school teacher, dance teacher, soccer coach, basketball coach..... A competition to have the most beautifully decorated home, which we all know Sparky can never be beaten, so stop trying.

All I know for certain in my heart is that Christmas has become everything that it was never intended to be.

Christmas is actually the celebration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, coming as a helpless child to a cruel world that would reject Him and one day crucify Him. Realizing this is the true meaning of Christmas is why we have scaled back so much this time of the year. It's another way in which we have made a choice to be different. We did not put Christmas on a credit card this year, and we never plan to again. We don't buy gifts for many people, except our son, who we give three gifts and a stocking. If you do receive a gift from me it will likely be in the form of a handmade crate or a jar of home canned goods. I just can't bring myself to buy into the consumerism of Christmas anymore, especially because I have read and researched were my gifts most likely come from. Not many people realize that a lot of the things they think they need for Christmas are actually made by people in other countries that are treated awful and work in horrible conditions to fulfill orders for big companies who meet our American demand.

To me, as I grow older, Christmas has become more about celebrating the baby that came over 2000 years ago and teaching my son to do the same. It's about trying to eliminate the focus on self and  focus on others. It's about figuring out ways to bless others without going into debt and buying into the more is better lie.

The thing I remember most about Christmas, and what I will treasure until the day I die, is spending time with people I love. The memories that only we share as a family. The memories of Christmas Eve board games when we would laugh so hard we almost peed ourselves, Christmas Day dinners at my grandparents with ham, mashed potatoes and all the fixins, and my silly uncle, who is only seven years older than me, wearing a Santa hat and being as excited as the kids to open presents around the tree. The many Christmas Eves with snow falling softly as we left my grandparent's house late at night to go home. Now that we live ten hours away, these are the things I treasure and miss.

It's not about gifts, it's not about trees, lights, Santa, or food. It's about Christ first and loving others second. Everything else that goes along with Christmas is secondary to these two things, in my opinion.

Thanks for going down memory lane with me, and I hope you all have a blessed and Merry Christmas. I have to go blow my nose and wipe my eyes because thinking about my family has me all choked up.


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