I love the holidays. In my opinion, Christmas songs can start as soon as the first leaf turns orange signaling that fall is here. Halloween and Thanksgiving are fine and all, but, for me, the Christmas spirit takes over fall and winter. This is my favorite time of year for many reasons, but a focus on joy and gratefulness is a large part of it.
However, there are a lot of things I don’t like about this time of year. Ice storms and freezing rain aside, the Christmas season has been manipulated into a strange and unfamiliar time. Black Friday sales are already starting and the retail sector is gearing up for its most profitable time of year. Now, I have nothing against the retail industry or for-profit companies. What I do have a problem with is the fact that we have let the true meaning and purpose of Christmas be contorted into a time of year when all we can think about is “things”.
I am a minimalist at heart and am not a big fan of having excess. (My husband dislikes this because I will spontaneously purge items from our household.) But this has also made me acutely aware of how our society is all about “things” during the Christmas season. As one of my favorite bloggers likes to say, “Everything is 100% off when you don’t buy it.”
We’ve gotten so far away from what this time of year is all about. For Christians specifically, it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and an acknowledgement of his life’s teachings. It’s a moment to pause and count our blessings, spend time loving our family, and to give back to those in need. Jesus cared deeply for those who needed Him most. Why don’t we spend the time of year when we are celebrating His birth, representing Christ to the world?
If you are tired of the way materialism has taken over the Christmas season, like I am, consider these ways to shift your holiday spirit:
1. Volunteer somewhere! This year, Body & Soul Fitness is partnering with the Salvation Army. Contact your local station for volunteer opportunities near you.
2. Instead of gifts, make donations to worthy causes. For our family’s Christmas gifts, we make donations in the name of each family member. They will receive a notification that a gift has been made in their name and they get to hear the impact it is having. Is there anything more rewarding than helping others?!
3. Don’t want to donate? Make something homemade! Taking the time to craft something from scratch creates a sentimental gift that will be remembered. Some of my favorite things to make for the holidays are assorted cookies, salt scrubs, and pumpkin butter.
4. Take the time to purge your house of things you don’t need. You can sell these items online, donate them to your local thrift store, or give them to other families in your neighborhood, church, or local school system.
5. Make it a point to refocus the holiday season on what it is really about. This doesn’t mean you need to throw out your Christmas tree and ban all gifts! You CAN make sure your family is focusing on the celebration of Jesus’ birth and representing Him to others during this season and all year long. You can take time each day to read scripture, follow an advent calendar, or say a prayer of thanksgiving for the way Christ has impacted your life.
Let’s make a commitment to take Christmas back this year! What ideas would you add to this list?