Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I saw lights up on a house a week before Thanksgiving. I imagined that someone in that family wanted to get a step up on the neighbors, to go bigger and better than those next door or across the street. And when Beve and E were out picking up a few last minute groceries for our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, they saw tents set up outside Best Buy, which means those people spent their thanksgiving holidays cooking weiners over bunsen burners in a parking lot. Festive AND full of thankfulness, right? Black Friday came with a bang all over this country. People were trampled right at midnight, all in an effort to get more. Bigger and better. And the stores tried to jump start the economy in a single day.
Because that's what Christmas is all about. Really, that's the truth of it. Let's not pretend otherwise. No matter who we are, we still want something under a tree or in a stocking that blesses us. That counts. We want something better than we had before, and, at least in this country, we go to great lengths to get it. It takes a whole lot more effort to NOT be sucked into this mentality than to let the culture sweep us away.
This year, our family is trying. A few months ago, we made the decision to have a thrift-Christmas. That is, we are only giving second-hand or handmade gifts to each other. It's been a very stretching thing for us. I wouldn't say that we're exactly good at it, or have figured this all out, I'm praying that this kind of Christmas makes the day less greedy and more grateful. Less full of material goods and more full of thoughtful ones. And certainly, ultimately more concentrated on the gift that cost everything but wasn't bought at any large box store.
One could, of course, make the case that God set up a tent in front of the whole wide world for that gift. He set off to Bethlehem encased in human flesh, in the safety of the human womb of his human mother, and when He finally breathed the air of earth, His appearance stopped creation for a few moments. The stars shone brighter, angels sang so loudly, they interrupted plain, old shepherds just going about their business, watching sheep. It wouldn't surprise me if even those dumb old sheep (and sheep are the dumbest of creatures) were dumbfounded by the sound of that voice and voices speaking and singing in the starry night.
That's the most handmade gift we've ever gotten. Made by the Hand of God. You can't find it at any store, can't satisfy the longing for it no matter the size of the TV you wrap up for your husband or the jewelry you buy for your wife. There will always be a better gaming device that you'll be pressured to buy for the kids next year. But this handmade gift of God in the form of that baby came once. And lasts forever.