The Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving, known among retailers as Black Friday.
What is black Friday? The term’s origin came from the point at which retailers begin to show profits – aka being in the black. A DJ on a local radio station reported sixty percent of Americans shared a wish for Christmas—skip it. Seriously? Perhaps John Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas (and the ensuing movie Christmas with the Kranks holds a lot more truth than I thought.
Of all holidays, Christmas ranks number one on my list. The lights, music and smells of the season capture my heart, taking me back to childhood memories. Food, family, songs drifting from a turntable twirling vinyl albums while I danced, and my favorite thing—sleeping on the sofa when my sister came home. I loved falling asleep to the twinkle of lights on the tree, knowing Mom already put the turkey in the oven to cook overnight. The scent of roasting meat held the power to waken me long before any sound or excitement over presents.
We didn’t necessarily focus Jesus’ birth, although I never doubted His rightful place as the center of the holiday. We gave presents out of love, and Jesus equaled love. In my mind, Christmas and Jesus simply went together. My sister and I scraped together money to buy gifts for one another and Mom, who often left quarters in her uniforms so we found them when helping with laundry. We had one goal—find the perfect gift with meager funds in our possession. We learned the value of pooling our money to buy something nice for our mother, and making gifts if necessary. It seemed most people shared that sentiment.
How, then, did we digress to people dreading Christmas? Some say, “It’s too commercialized.” The radio personality said, “It gets so expensive and busy.”
Who makes this holiday expensive? I do. Who overbooks themselves? Me. I choose how much money to spend and where to invest my time.
Almost forty years ago when I was thirteen, my mother spent an extraordinary amount of money on a Timey Tell doll. I wanted her more than anything that year. Mom sacrificed to buy that doll for me. Later she told me, “I splurged because I knew it was probably the last time you’d ever ask for a doll for Christmas.” A mother’s heart ached as her baby girl grew up and it moved her to do something she ordinarily wouldn’t. I remember that Christmas, not because my mom spent so much money on me, but because she showed sacrificial love.
If we returned to simple gifts, perhaps making something instead of spending money we don’t have, maybe we’d learn to love Christmas again instead of wanting to skip it.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some ideas for making Christmas less stressful and providing gifts without a need to smash the piggy bank. Please visit my blog and feel free to share your thoughts.