Updated: Dec 17, 2021
As I scroll through countless websites hoping that a new kids’ toy will grab my attention, I think about my nephews and how they’ll react to the gifts I took time to handpick for them.
And by that, I mean read review after review, compare prices on competing websites, scour the internet for every last promo code, and find a way to get free shipping.
Shopping is truly an art, my friends.
all i want for Christmas is...
Luckily, my family has agreed to only buy Christmas presents for “the boys” – my now 5-year-old and 1-year-old nephews. We started this tradition a couple of years ago, and I will say, it works. It takes the pressure off looking (and budgeting) for a gift for every single family member.
I didn’t like the idea at first.
Gift-giving is one of my most prominent love languages. And like most, I’ve grown up accustomed to the idea that presents are what make Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year!”
So, what’s a holiday celebration without gifts?
It’s simple. It’s real. It’s humble. And in our part of the world, it’s wrong.
But that’s how Christmas started.
'twas the night before Christmas
As I recall, the origin story opens with something along these lines: “A long, long time ago, in a dingy animal stable, on a quiet night in a hick town, was a very pregnant teenage girl, preparing to give birth…”
I’ll let you fill in the rest of the details.
Thinking about the birth of my own nephews – there’s so much anticipation, planning, and celebrating (gift-giving) that happens, and for good reason. These are new, special people being brought into the world, and they deserve a little hoopla.
But Jesus’s birth got no hoopla. No fanfare. Not even a twin bed with fresh sheets at the inn. #MaryisaBoss
It wasn’t until the Wise Men swooped in with their gifts and praise that started the buzz. They were the social media influencers of their time.
But the thing that blows my mind is that Jesus wouldn’t have had it any other way!
He was no diva.
This is the most important human to ever step foot on the earth, taking his first breath in an ungodly location.
Tucked between the bustling Israeli capital of Jerusalem and the five-star rated tourist attraction of the Dead Sea, lies the little town of Bethlehem at 31.7054° N and 35.2024° E.
Thank God for those coordinates.
They remind us that we can also choose to remain humble. To quiet the hype and the noise and focus on what’s important, both in life and during the holidays.
And what’s important is what comes after the hoopla of the holidays and of our lives.
It’s the hope in heaven.
Until then, whether it’s financial strain or personal loss, if you’re struggling to feel the magic this time of year, it’s okay.
Take it from The Advent Project from Zondervan:
But what if we didn’t view a humble Christmas with disappointment?… Whatever circumstance you find yourself in this year, don’t let anything stop you from connecting with Jesus and those around you… An extravagant Christmas celebration is not what matters. What counts is our humble worship of the King.
expectation vs. reality
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve expected a lot from my parents over the years. Not just to shower me with gifts on Christmases and birthdays, but to say and do the right things.
All the time.
This is an unrealistic expectation, and frankly, it’s unfair to them. But what I didn't see growing up is that they have always showered me with priceless gifts – their unconditional devotion and love. Even before I was born.
They anticipated my birth with open arms, planned to sacrifice their own luxuries to make room for mine, and celebrated me by committing to love me. And they continue to celebrate every day – by choosing to love me despite my imperfections and irrational expectations of them.
I’m starting to see that choosing to live in modest circumstances, even when you have the capability of living luxuriously, is a far more admirable gift than any store or website can sell.
As for my birthday being four days after Christmas… I’ll leave that for another blog post. :)
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, no matter where you are this time of year! Xo, Anna