I hope that you will be safe this holiday. Enjoy yourself and remember that the Christmas season is not about gifts.

That’s right, I said it. Christmas is not about gifts. Granted, I know what the Master says, and rightly so:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

(Acts 20:35b)

But I’m thinking specifically of the holiday, and not the life of service we do for others (which is what Jesus—and Paul quoting Him—were talking about). When thinking about the Christmas holiday, it’s almost impossible not to picture a bright green box tied with a bright red bow. Presents are intrinsically connected to this time of year, and I have no problem with that. By all means, buy me a present!

But when you read, for example, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or one of my all-time favorite books, A Christmas Carol, ask yourself: What is the message the authors are trying to convey here? Both books have the same message, in fact. Seuss uses the Grinch to tell us…well let me just quote it:

and the Grinch, with his grinch feet ice cold in the snow
stood puzzling and puzzling “how could it be so”

“it came without ribbons; it came without tags;
it came without packages boxes or bags”

And he puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore
then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before

“What if Christmas—he thought—doesn’t come from a store…
What if Christmas–perhaps–means a little bit more.”

The point of the book is that stuff doesn’t matter.

And then there’s Dickens’ Christmas Carol, a story we’re familiar with through its many movie adaptations, but you do a disservice to the story if you never once read the book; it’s short and impactful. The message of the story isn’t “scrooge learns to be charitable.” That’s just a result of what Scrooge really learns. The book is really about him learning the joy of being with those you love. Remember that Scrooge had cast aside the woman of his dreams, had spurned his nephew’s invitation to come to Christmas dinner, and had scoffed at treating Bob Crachet as a partner and friend. But at the end, he learns that life is about living it with people you love, and so he spends Christmas morning being around them, laughing and living life with love.

People always say “Christmas isn’t about getting gifts, it’s about giving gifts.”

No. It’s not about gifts at all! Christmas is about being with your loved ones, because you might not get another opportunity until next Christmas, if ever again. So I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas-week. Spend it with the ones you love, and who love you. If you do, it won’t matter what you get or what you give, you’ll have something special, indeed.

God bless us, every one.

~ Matthew