The day after Thanksgiving is a big day in the Bielski home. Why? It’s Christmas list time! That’s right. Being from a big family, we pick names from a hat and then my sister pulls out a HUGE stack of catalogues (J-Crew, Eddie Bauer, Best Buy and Target – to name a few). She dumps them on the living room table and the fun begins.
My sisters and brothers comb through each page. From new computer equipment, video games, sporting goods and the cutest clothing out this season, we circle what would be best for “Santa” to bring this year. We don’t even have time to recover from the “food coma” we’re in as a result of our turkey dinner before we’re already thinking about Christmas lists and shopping!
Shop ’til You Drop
According to the National Retail Federation, America spent over $4 billion last Christmas. People keep talking about the hard economic times, but statistics prove one thing has not changed in our family traditions – we love to shop!
The day after Thanksgiving drives American consumers into a buying frenzy. Every Black Friday, shoppers stampede through the malls like wild elephants ready to trample anyone in their way of a great deal. This year, a woman actually pepper sprayed a competing customer in Wal-mart to get their Black Friday video game sale. I mean, have we gone too far?!
Don’t get me wrong, I love to give and receive gifts from the people I love. That is the fun of Christmas! But with all the Christmas lights and Santa statues, endless Holiday commercials, and glittering BUY NOW signs, who’s really thinking about Jesus? We’re either counting down the days until we get presents or stressed over what we should buy.
It makes me wonder …
Have we lost the meaning of Christmas?
As Catholics, the preparation time for Christmas is called Advent, which is the Latin word for waiting. The early Jews waited and longed for the day of the coming of the Messiah, the savior. The irony of the materialism during the time of Christmas is that materialism (as well as other sins) is exactly what Christ came into the world to free us from! He came to take us away from our idols, our “false gods” in this world and long only for Him.
This Christmas, let’s re-examine our “Dear Santa” list and look to Jesus. Ask yourself what you really need this Christmas. Sure, we all have “wish list” items for Christmas. Something that is definitely not coming off my list is upgraded software for my mac and a new pair of jeans from my favorite store. It is good (and fun) to give and receive.
A Different Wish List
God didn’t come into the world to give us material things. He came for the interior – God came for the desires of our heart. So let’s make a Christmas list for our Lord that counts.
What am I truly longing for in my heart this Christmas season?
Do I need a better relationship with my parents?
Do I need a more positive attitude about school?
Do I need to ask for less and give more?
Do I need the gift of hope after a long year of stress and challenges with friends and school?
Do I need to to be less anxious, pray better or have more faith?
Let’s spend some time in prayer searching our hearts for what our Lord could give us this Christmas.
Jesus’ Gift To You
Sometimes in the mist of the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we forget why it’s so amazing that Jesus came into the world. This first reading from last Sunday’s mass, Isaiah 61, is one of my favorites. It is the same scripture Jesus recites in Luke to proclaim his mission:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.
Jesus came to change our hearts . . . to heal and restore the broken-hearted, bring freedom into spiritually imprisoned, hope for the weary and salvation for those who believe in Him. This is who Jesus is, and this is why he came. This is good news we celebrate at Christmas!
Baby Jesus doesn’t want to give you a new iPad, blue-ray DVD or designer jeans. He comes to us to give His very self. The greatest gift we could ever ask for on our Christmas list is a child born in a manger 2000 years ago – Jesus Himself.
Even the new iPhone 4S or the greatest video game has nothing on that!