I’m not one to create Christmas lists or be very vocal about what I want for Christmas. Normally, I’ll look for opportunities to serve or buy gifts for others to help make their season more enjoyable. However, this year I found myself putting together a wishlist and letting my family know what I wanted. For the first time in years, I started to make Christmas more about me and the gifts I could receive. I also started to think about buying my children the perfect gift and letting my family know what they wanted.
When I attended church that same weekend, my heart was convicted by the sermon. Christmas isn’t about me. It isn’t about gifts. It is about the birth of Christ. I started to think about everything I have and everything I’m grateful for. I started to think about the true meaning of Christmas and then I started to recognize the movement toward commercialism in my own heart. After that sermon, I had a change of heart, eliminated my wishlist and changed how I approached Christmas.
I believe that one of the biggest things that steal our joy during this season is commercialism and comparison. Those two things trigger a lack of gratitude that leads to overspending, anxiety and debt. In fact, the average American will spend approximately $920 on gifts this year. In 2017, the average American racked up more than $1,000 in debt, with half saying they expected it to take more than three months to pay off. Seriously, is this the real meaning of Christmas? I don’t mean to step on any toes here, but the message is so important.
“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.” — Oprah Winfrey
I love this quote from Oprah because the message is so powerful. Focus on gratitude and be grateful for the things and people in your life. Be grateful for the gift that makes this Christmas holiday even possible! Too often, we get caught up on what other people have, what we wish we could have, where we wish we were in life, or how we wish things could be. But, if we take time to look around us, there is at least one thing to be grateful for even when sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.
Therefore, I challenge you to shift your mindset. Instead of more gifts under the tree, look for opportunities to:
- Volunteer. Get your family involved. This is a great way to instill service into the hearts of your children.
- Give. Donate to a local charity or to organizations that serve causes that matter to you and align with your beliefs and values. Also, instead of receiving gifts, ask others to donate to a charity in your name. Two of my favorite nonprofits are Samaritan’s Purse and The Salvation Army.
- Love others. Christmas is about the ultimate love story of humankind. Therefore, let’s show our gratitude by radically loving others this season.
- Focus on gratitude. I challenge you to begin and end each day with gratitude. Either do it aloud or in a journal, but every day say or list 3 things that you are grateful for. Just doing this one thing could radically shift your entire outlook and perspective. More joy, hope and optimism could come into your life as you begin to see the glory, presence and provision of God daily.
Don’t do this alone. Have these same conversations with your family and friends this season. Together, let’s shift our mindset about Christmas and focus less on us and stuff, and more on what this season truly means. How will you celebrate Christmas this year?
If you are struggling with planning, check out this resource to develop and download your Christmas Gift Savings Plan to organize your holiday shopping so that you avoid going over budget — and focus on the things that truly matter this season.