The Tension of Christmas Consumerism and Contentment

image credit: Alen4a

image credit: Alen4a

It’s hard to believe it’s already December.

This time of year is one I look forward to, but sometimes it feels a bit tainted by something very unChristmasy.

Christmas Expectations

Have you noticed it, too? The pressure that’s built up in families and among friends or some coworkers—the unspoken or very spoken expectation that you’ll purchase gifts for each other? Instead of a joyful celebration, it can feel like added stress that only escalates the closer we inch toward December 25th.

Sales, spending, price cuts, checking off the Christmas list…Is there more to Christmas than the almighty dollar? Depends on whom you ask or where you look. And many of us who want to be conscious of not spending too much or not getting too focused on the trappings of the holiday, honestly, sometimes we just fall right into the very frantic consumeristic mindset we hoped to avoid.

Sometimes I just wish that part of Christmas would die.

There’s more to Christmas than exchanging gifts. We can let consumerism crack our perception of what the holidays should be, or we can appreciate it for the original intent.

Are you more concerned about the gifts under the tree rather than the people around the room? Don’t feel compelled to buy a lot from the tradition or the family pressure.

Just because the Christmas season is here doesn’t mean we need to exchange consumerism for conscientious faith.

Both the possessions we want to have and the acceptance we get through gift giving can become cravings that push us further away from God’s best for us.

Giving and Spending

Giving is a really, really good thing—especially when we put our hearts into the gift because we sincerely care about the other person. I just don’t want to forget that my frenzied giving can get in the way of the peace that Christmas is all about.

Spending to satisfy our felt need to contribute is just as misguided as trying to buy to fulfill us. Giving and receiving are good, but complete fulfillment is only found in knowing Jesus. No amount of spending or receiving can do that.

Jesus sets us free from consumerism as well as stinginess.

Giving gifts is good, but receiving from God is where it all begins. If we really believe Jesus is the greatest gift we’ve ever received, we can step back and regain the perspective that things only mean so much outside of the context of a relationship.

Conquering consumerism is found in contentment.

In turn, contentment helps us slow down and focus more on people than possessions. We can give presents as tokens of our relationships, or we can give our presence and grow deeper in our relationships.

Let’s simply sit around for a few minutes, enjoying the peace that comes from God with us, during the cold evenings and cozy indoors together, under the glow of dazzling strings of lights.

Life has always been about far more than things.

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How do you focus on God and on people during Christmas, not just the gift-giving and traditions? Comment below.

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Read more about the part of Christmas that needs to die—and what you can do about it.

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