Sally Matheny is my guest blogger this week. She has a refreshing look at the way we look at Christmas activities.
Christmas is a fun time of year, especially for children. There is an abundance of merryactivities: parades, special programs, baking and decorating. Adults walking children down toy aisles and making wish lists. Pointing to different toys they ask, “What about this? Do you like this?”
As far back as I can remember, my mother read stories to us each night, in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Christmas devotionals came from a green hardcover Guideposts book. My sister and I loved those stories and they always seemed to draw our focus away from the material things and towards Christ.
But I must admit Christmas morning was a completely different matter. The shiny bows and mysteriously shaped packages under the tree screamed for my attention and we were not allowed to open them right away. The gifts had to wait until Mama and Dad got up which seemed to take forever. Then, we could sit in front of the tree but not touch anything until Daddy got his coffee—, which seemed to take forever.
Next, we had to wait for Mama to put the sausage balls and cinnamon Danish rolls in the oven—, which seemed to take forever.
Finally, it was time for Mama to read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2. Many times my mind wandered away from the manger and over to the presents. Why could my excitement about the gifts not make those shepherds walk a little faster? Let the wise men hurry and give their three gifts because I had already scanned my name more than that on tags under the tree. What? Time to pray? Alright! That meant presents were next!
Another tradition we had is that it wasn’t a free-for-all. We had to take turns opening gifts starting with the youngest, which was cool since that was I. I liked seeing what everyone else got, especially my sister, since she might share her toys with me. However, I always readied the next gift in my lap while everyone else opened their presents.
Shameful and sad, isn’t it? Alas, it was the mindset of a self-centered five year old. God bless my parents for hanging in there. I’m thankful they didn’t throw their hands up in discouragement and let us delve into a selfish frenzy.
As much as they enjoyed watching their children’s delight on Christmas morning, they had a deeper conviction. They knew something that I did not know until I was older—that the fulfillment in gifts is fleeting. Most of the toys would be discarded within a few years, some within a few months. Not one toy would last forever and even if it did, they knew the happiness it once brought would not.
The greatest gift they gave us was their consistent pointing to Jesus Christ. All they could do was point the way. We had to make the choice.
The angels told the shepherds the good news. However, the shepherds made the decision to go find the Messiah. The star pointed the way for the magi, but they had to choose to follow it.
Praise God, as I matured, my gaze gradually shifted from the gifts to the manger. God drew me to Him. He used my parents and others to point me in the right direction.
It is delightful giving gifts at Christmas, especially to children. In the midst of all the merriment, let's continue turning our focus on the best Gift.
How long will His love fulfill my life?
What about you? How do you point the way to Christ during the Christmas season?
Her writing is published by Focus on the Family; Keys for Kids; and Practical Homeschooling. Her work is also found on-line at Christian Devotions; DevoKids, and other publications.
She serves on the leadership team for the Write2Ignite Writers’ Conference, held at North Greenville University and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and of the American Christian Writers Association.
Visit her blog at www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com. You can also connect with her via facebook and Twitter: Sally_Matheny.
Happily married for twenty-four years to her pastor-husband, they have three children and have been homeschooling for fourteen years.
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