This Christmas

Harsh blizzards, icy roads, hectic shopping, endless social gatherings, and racking up huge credit card bills over greedy kids. It seems that this is what Christmas has come to mean more recently. I have always had a soft spot for Christmas. It has a very special place in my heart. Not because there is some great life altering redemption story in my life revolving around Christmas, but more so because when I was a kid it seemed like everything was better during the holidays. People were happier, joy would be running rampant throughout everyone you meet, even the food was tastier(probably due to the higher volume of cookies and candy that suddenly appeared in December that never seemed to be around the rest of the year). It may be that I see things now that i never took notice of as a child, looking at the world through the rose coloured glasses that many children do, trying to see the best of things and be happy because it was always better than the alternative. I have to believe that although its true that as a child I probably overlooked much of what happened around me, admittedly spending a great deal of time “in my own little world” as my parents would gladly tell you, there has been a fundamental change in how we celebrate Christmas, if you can really call it a celebration at all.

Now I could sit here for hours and hours trying to nail into your head all of my personal beliefs and why they are important and how that dictates why I observe this season in the manner that I do and blah, blah, blah, blah blah! I have no intention of getting up on the soap box today, so if I haven't already lost you, please stay with me I hope i have a point. If I have already lost you then your not reading this part anyway so let me stick my tongue out at you and make funny faces because now I know your back is turned.

I would love to see a season where we get back to what Christmas really means to each of us on a personal level, and really focus on that. For me Christmas is about a few key ingredients that i need to make my “Christmas Cookie” so to speak.

#1 GOD ....this is a personal one for me and if you struggle with it or would like to know more, I would be more than happy to chat about it in detail. I have a very strong conviction that if we want to separate God from Christmas we may as well call the whole thing off because its like having a Superbowl party when the games been cancelled.

#2 Family.... I know this is not a universal truth as many families struggle with brokenness and dissolution and as such choose not to acknowledge family even during the holidays, I only hope for a change in your luck. Family for me is among top priorities in everything I do and Christmas is no exception to that. Our family at one point was able to accomplish what now seems like the impossible. We managed to hammer out the entire Christmas experience into a single day on December 25th. We started with Christmas with just the immediate family: My parents, my brothers and myself(and of course the cat) after which we would have brunch with my dads side of the family and enjoy Christmas with them, and we would finish up the day having Christmas dinner with my moms side of the family. All together, all happy, not rushed, and thoroughly enjoyed in one day. I long for those days again as we are dealing now with normalizing a Christmas routine as my brothers and I have all married now and added several children among us into the mix. Schedules have changed and difficulty has been added causing some confusion emotion to rise. Regardless of everyone's schedules we remain committed to having my parents, my brothers, our spouses and children altogether in one house for a celebration of Christmas, whatever day it may be.

#3 GIVING gifts: not only is gift giving a part of what I believe to observe the Christian story of Christmas, but I personally love to give, much more than I enjoy receiving. My wife and I have this back and forth every year at Christmas and birthdays about my going overboard and maybe spending too much, and I think it has come up in many families that we should just do gifts for “the kids”. If this is what your family does, I find no fault but my wife and I have agreed that no matter what the decision is about whether or not gifts will be exchanged within our extended family, we will always give gift to my brothers, their wives and my parents. It is just in my nature to want to give and we have never let anything stand in the way of that. The years that money was tight, we busted out the crafts or the baking or even certain things that we had of our own that we knew someone would enjoy as much if not more. Giving gifts has gotten all wrapped up in the commercial dollar value placed on something instead of the work that went into finding it. The most thoughtful gift I have ever received probably didn't come from a store. There is great misconception that gifts are to be bought and it's just not true!! don't misunderstand me I'm not endorsing theft, I'm promoting creativity. I love when after being asked what I want for Christmas and, giving an unfortunately specific list, I get a gift that I never would have thought to ask for that is actually something I enjoy much more than anything I thought to ask for.

I think I have preached enough now to keep you all busy for a while, and to suffice to say my slight insanity is appropriately evident. I'll close today by giving you two challenges this Christmas.

Enjoy the season the way you did when you were a child and recall back to the very best Christmas you ever had and share the experience with your friends.

Christmas is a season of Joy, and Generosity and the most appropriate time of year for the most well know verse in the Bible

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Have a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!!!!

Christian Kentie
The Frugal Dutchman