By Mike Orange
Over the Thanksgiving holiday my daughter and went to Kentucky to spend time with an old acquaintance of mine. We drove home on Friday...BLACK FRIDAY! At around 5PM we were driving past the Route 63 exit, where the outlet mall is located. Traffic was backed up on the interstate for over a mile in both directions, with shoppers, eager to find a parking place, of which there were none. The competition to find the best deals on the most desired merchandise must have been fierce. While I know that many people really enjoy the atmosphere of Black Friday, as the “fun” of family and friends building memories in the process brings joy, I was reminded that, for many, Christmas is about filling every want for themselves and their loved ones.
As parents, we want our children to be overjoyed when they see the tree on Christmas morning, packed with gifts that light up their eyes with the anticipation of what the neatly decorated packages hold. I have fond memories of Christmas mornings with our children. Of course, they awoke at 4AM, wide eyed and ready to attack. Holly and I would hear them outside of our door, debating about whether or not it was too early to get mom and dad up. Holly always made them wait on the stairs, while she went down first to make sure everything was in order and the camera ready to capture precious moments in time. Then, the time came for their wait to end. Seeing the joy that they had, as they tore through every package, made us feel good, and I will forever cherish those memories.
There is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes our love of our children can lead us to leave no room for want in their experience of the Christmas season. Proverbs 27:7 says, “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” I think that this is why we sometimes have trouble keeping Christ as the centerpiece of Christmas. Part of godly parenting is to allow room for want in our children’s lives. An important task of training up a child in they way they should go is to help them understand that true joy is only experienced by the presence and provision of Christ in their lives. Their relationship with Jesus will be matured when they experience his power in meeting their innermost needs and desires. We can stiffel that if they have no hunger for anything, no sense of lacking in their lives.
There are many creative ways to do this. Incorporating service into your family’s celebration of Christmas is a wonderful way to help build compassion for the needs of others. Some parents have encouraged their children to give up one of their gifts to give to a child in need. One Christmas our extended family had a “White Elephant” gift exchange. One of my nieces drew my name. She had no idea what to get me, so she broke the rules and divulged that she drew my name. She asked what I would like. I told her to research charities and find one that she was passionate about. I then told her to make a donation to that charity and give me a copy of the receipt as my gift. She was unsure about that, because I “wouldn’t get anything”. She did as I asked. She spent considerable time researching various charities. Finally, she chose one that served children. On Christmas Eve, as our family met for the gift exchange, she said that it was one of the most meaningful gifts she had ever given. I must say that it was one of the most meaningful gifts that I have ever received. She continues to support that charity.
So, make sure that Christmas with your family is Christ-centered. Help your children develop the joy of giving, as well as receiving. Allow room for want to work in their lives, growing compassion in them for others who are in need. When their hunger is left unsatiated, they will develop the ability to have joy in simple things, ultimately finding true satisfaction in the love of the Savior for them. I pray that this Christmas will bring joy and fond memories for you and your families. May you also experience the blessing of hunger that can only be filled in Him.