The Reality of Christmas

It’s been several days into the Christmas season. And what does that mean? The thing that while we love getting from others, but we also dread finding for them: Gifts. I still wonder where the concept of giving gifts during Christmas comes from, but regardless, it’s there. As I’ve been approaching this and thinking of ideas for my loved ones, it’s been rough thinking something up for each person.

While I’m usually the one that looks for gifts that will be useful and practical for someone, this year, I’ve wanted to go with something that’s more sentimental and cheap and using the rest of the money that would have been spent on gifts to donate to more charitable organizations to use more wisely. Why the change? Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had more of a changed heart with regards to Christmas. Maybe it’s the fact that my eyes are finally open to the reality of the world around me and the needs that so many people around me need answered. Or maybe it’s the realization of the current events that have made us fearfully aware of the path we’re taking today. Let me explain.

I’ve been reminded a lot over the past few weeks of this constant theme. What is Christmas really about? It’s the season of giving. Sure, that makes sense. But why? It’s because we received the ultimate gift: God brings into this world His one and only son. That son who would eventually grow up to become a man who never sinned, gather a group of ragged men together and teach them how to turn their world right-side up, dine with tax collectors and prostitutes, showing grace and mercy to all, and eventually would die on the cross to forgive us of our sins. It’s hard not to not take a “religious” spin on this, but I can’t see any other way. The fact of the matter is this. We’ve received this amazing gift from Him, yet we’re using it for the wrong things or just keeping it for ourselves.

We know that we have received and been blessed with so many gifts in our lives. Our fame, our wealth, the people in our lives, the love we’ve received. It might seem like we’re struggling financially, but in truth, we’re not. Here’s something to put things in perspective. Earlier this week, I helped pay for a couple of friends and myself for dinner at a local restaurant. The total bill was around $35 (A little over $10 per person). In Vietnam, that one meal of three is almost equivalent to feeding a family of four for several weeks, at the very minimum. When I reminded myself about that, I felt a little sick to my stomach.

While we are concerned that we only have a few hundred dollars in our bank accounts or not sure if we have enough money to buy that iPhone for our loved ones, maybe we need to reconsider how we spend it this holiday season. While we’re “struggling”, it’s nothing compared to that of the rest of this world right now. Maybe it’s time we start sharing that gift that we’ve been blessed with to others that really need it more than ourselves or each other, who are much more well off. We hear a lot about fighting the war on poverty. But as many of us complete agree with the idea and support it, we choose to be complacent and not actually take any action other than just saying “Down with poverty! Yeah…!” Maybe it’s time we actually take a stand against it and do something about it. The Christmas season seems like the perfect time to make that change.

Money has that unfortunate effect that causes us to idolize it and horde it whenever we can. It’s become our false god. Without it, we feel weak, struggle, and live in fear each day. That is the way that society in the U.S. lives. It’s time to change that. To release the grip on our bank accounts and be willing to give some of it away to help others that actually need it. We’ve already received all the love we can ask for in God and those around us. That’s all that we really need. Especially in a time where people feel hopeless and there is no one out there that cares about them, this is the time to show them that there is someone that does love them. To that family in Vietnam that can’t struggling to feed their children… To the orphan in Africa who can’t go to school because of lack of funds…

So as I still work on my Christmas shopping list this year, I’ve been a lot more thrifty. Maybe a little too cheap. But I know that those that those I’m giving gifts to will understand my reasoning in the end. It’s not because I’m trying to save money. It’s because that money is better off spent or given to someone that actually needs it. That is what I’ve come to realize this season: It’s not about the quality of the gifts. It’s not about the amount of money we spend. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others. To love others just as God loves you. That is what Christmas is really about.

Give someone hope. Make a difference in someone’s life.

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