How To Celebrate Christmas

I haven’t sent Christmas cards in many years. Before I decided to do this, every year I felt pressure as the holidays approached but ended up not sending any cards because it was too late. I feel liberated now from the pressure of sending Christmas cards in time.

Since I don’t send Christmas cards, I don’t expect to receive any. But some people still send them to me. Sometimes I wonder why. Some cards I receive are preprinted and only include a signature. Sometimes even the signatures are copied. There’s no sense of personal touch. It’s hard to appreciate cards like these. They seem to be sent out of a sense of obligation.

I do enjoy receiving cards from our church members because they always write a few lines expressing their genuine feelings and gratitude towards me or my ministry.

I don’t like receiving cards with family newsletters inside them either. I welcome family newsletters from close friends, but it’s hard to read about the relatives of people I hardly know. Family newsletters should be reserved for intimate friends.

There are also unwelcome Christmas gifts. Some people have fruit baskets or gift packages delivered to my door. They are usually expensive but don’t take into account the recipient’s taste. When I receive such gifts, sometimes I’m at a loss as to what to do with them. I can’t eat them, wear them, or use them. But I can’t throw them away either without feeling guilty.

I have an aunt on my wife’s side who is gifted in gift-giving. She seems to know exactly what other people want. When Danny and Christine were young, she gave them presents to their exact liking, making them very excited. Sometimes she sent sweatshirts with their names on the front, or personal stationery. On my 60th birthday, she sent me a copy of Life magazine published on the day I was born, October 15, 1944. I was moved when I thought about the trouble she must have gone through to get it.

Christmas is a time for presents. But we who live in the U.S. already have more than enough. So instead of exchanging gifts with each other, let us give it to those who are in need. Let us give some of the toys we might buy for our own children to needy children instead. When we make Christmas a season of giving instead of receiving, we truly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who came to serve, not to be served.

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