You Can't Buy Christmas - Sunday, November 30, 2014
Love, family, and faith make Christmas meaningful. Store-bought stuff may fill stockings and surround trees, but it doesn’t fill our hearts with joy and contentment for long. During the holiday season, the more we chase after merchandise, the further we get from the true spirit of the holiday. And yet how many end up buying things that they either do not need or cannot afford because they want their loved ones to have a “happy” Christmas? We all know that gifts don’t buy enduring happiness. In fact, social scientists have confirmed that “chasing possessions tends to make [people] less happy.”1
So if we want our loved ones to have a happy Christmas, we would do well to remember the experience of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, who tried to steal Christmas from Who-ville by taking away all of its material things—the presents, the feasts, the decorations. But to the Grinch’s great surprise, the people of Who-ville still gathered on Christmas morning to sing and to celebrate. Only then did the Grinch realize that Christmas, in its purest form, is much more than he thought it was. It cannot be purchased at any store, and it thrives in our hearts no matter our material possessions.2
When we think back on Christmases we remember best, we realize that what made them memorable was not a gift we received but an experience we had. We recall a happy moment of sharing. We think of a beloved tradition, cherish the gladness of gathering with loved ones, and reread the beloved Christmas story. We remember a warm fire, a snowy night, a favorite song. But we almost never remember the pile of gifts under the tree.
So this year, be deliberate about the holiday activities and traditions that you share with loved ones. Create memories, build loving bonds, and have experiences that outlast throwaway things. Don’t waste the season running from store to store in pursuit of fleeting treasures. Rather, in the words of Him whose birth inspired Christmas, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20–21).
-Lloyd D. Newell
1. Jeff Haden, “7 Things Remarkably Happy People Do Often,” Inc., Mar. 24, 2014, http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/7-things-remarkably-happy-people-do-more.html.
2. See How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), np.