Christmas Dishes and Wishes
Christmas dishes. That’s what I wanted – my very own set of Christmas dishes. The pattern I wanted was going to be on sale for an unbelievable price on the day after Thanksgiving…aka “Black Friday.” I talked my mother and my sister-in-law into helping me and we were at the doors of the department store bright and early – along with several hundred other women who also had their eyes on the china department. The doors opened and we found ourselves being herded through cattle chutes up the stairs to find total chaos. We had a plan, and, after several shouts to each other from across the room, we rendezvoused at the checkout line with our prized catch of the day.
That was almost a decade ago and my family still laughs about that morning. The craziness of the moment, the influence of the crowd, and the competitiveness that emerged surprised us all. We’ve never done anything like that again!
What is it about the Christmas that makes us act like we’ve gone from deal-hunters to headhunters? This year, people barely finished eating their pumpkin pie before heading out to stand in line for pre-Black Friday deals! 8 a.m. door busters now happen at 8 p.m. All to create the “perfect” Christmas – the perfect gift, have the perfect table, decorate the perfect tree, and experience the perfect moment. In the midst of it all, yard art and Christmas cards proclaim that, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” But do we truly treat Christmas as a focus on Jesus or do we find ourselves searching out the ideal intersection between the Proverbs 31 woman and Martha Stewart?
While we hear it every year, we annually need the reminder: It’s not about the stuff.
Jesus is not about the stuff. Jesus, God the Son, is so not about the stuff that he made his appearance on this earth as the tiniest, most vulnerable person there is – a new born baby wrapped not in designer onesies, but in strips of cloth. He is so not about the stuff that the first place he laid his head was in a borrowed stable that was not exactly scented with the latest 50%-off candle fragrance. Later in his ministry, he showed us once again, that it’s not about the stuff when he cleared the temple of retailers trying to entice those in attendance with the latest bargains and offering upgrades (Mark 9:15-18, John 2:13-17). He reminded the rich young ruler that, at the end of the day, it’s not about the stuff (Luke 18:18-23).
Please know, purchasing the latest toy for your child that happens to be on the top of his Christmas list is not what I’m talking about here – we want to make Christmas special and enjoy the squeals of Christmas morning. Rather, the question is have you found yourself so focused on the gift, the stuff per se, that you have lost sight of the reason for gift-giving? What would happen if you were not able to fight the crowd, spend the money, or be successful in the hunt for the biggest, best, and greatest? Are you fearful that you would be looked at as a less than the perfect mother or that your child would be so disappointed she would never recover?
Stuff doesn’t buy happiness, love, or even a temporary, “You’re okay.”
A year from now, we won’t remember the gift we fought so hard to buy. A year from now, it may not even be working. And, if we are not careful, we may find ourselves trying to find the next thing in order to elicit the words we long to hear, “I love you.”
Jesus is about a relationship. We don’t know exactly why Jesus was born in a stable to earthly parents that lived a rather simple life. We do know it made him accessible and approachable to both lowly shepherds and Eastern men of wealth. Jesus’ focus during his time on earth was to give people the ultimate gift, an eternal relationship with him, complete with a lifetime warranty.
It was, and still is, all about a relationship.
While many favorite Christmas memories may be tied to a particular gift, what most likely makes that memory significant is not the item itself, but the meaning or relationship associated with it. I still remember the year my niece received the latest video dance game. What makes me smile at the thought of that gift is not the game itself, but the picture of the two grandmothers trying to play that game. I still chuckle about that!
Yes, the stuff of Christmas can be fun and add color to our celebrations. At the same time, we must be careful not to let the stuff shroud the view of the people in our lives. This is a time to forgive, reconnect, and restore broken relationships. It is a time to create new memories and traditions. It is a time to declare hope to a world that needs a little hope – one person at a time.
So here’s my Christmas wish to you:
This year, may you remember that Jesus is the gift…and it’s not about the stuff.
Now, let me go unpack my Christmas dishes. I fought for them, and most certainly, I am going to use them!