Joyful Giving, Graceful Receiving

One trend I’ve noticed this Christmas is for signs saying “SANTA STOP HERE”.  Mostly these are lit up and exist as part of big light displays on people’s houses, though I’ve also seen smaller signs.

I don’t like this trend.  Yes, it’s a sign of the commercialisation of Christmas, but it’s also a sign that people think Christmas is about what you can give to me.  And that’s giving gone backwards.  Do children think that they have a right to presents?  Or maybe that Santa is a service, like a taxi or a hairdresser, where you can book an appointment and expect him to turn up.

NO kiddies. No no no.  You’ve got it ALL wrong.

Oh dear.  I’m sounding a bit “bah humbug”…time to turn the emotion around.

I like Christmas.  And I love giving gifts.  I’ve not been very good this year, but I’m generally pretty good at mentally noting things people like or are interested in so that that can become a gift.  And it’s always fun and exciting watching someone discover a creative and well-thought-out gift.

Giving is a joy.  But it’s not a responsibility as such, and I, personally, would rather not have to wait for birthdays to give people gifts or, worse still, Christmas, when you have to do lots all at once.  Spontaneous giving is more even more fun and exciting than scheduled giving!

And, of course, we must not forget that Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And, much as he received the first Christmas gifts of Gold, Incense and Myrrh, as a symbol of his status and his destiny, he would much rather we gave gifts of love, justice, mercy, and grace.  He wouldn’t have us put up signs saying “Santa Stop Here” so that we can get given gifts; he would have us leave our own homes and go and find people who are really in need and give to them.

Happy Christmas one and all.  I hope that you are the recipient of many useful, well-thought-out presents.  I hope that you gracefully and joyfully receive them.  I hope that you enjoy your own giving – whatever form it may take.  And I hope also that you know God’s gift of peace.

P.S. My favourite version of the real Christmas story is from Luke’s Gospel.   Perhaps you’ll join with me in reading it.