Raising a Child in a Culture of Christmas Consumerism

We are officially now in full swing of the Christmas season.

I personally love Christmas. I love this time of year and pretty much everything associated with it. Christmas trees, Christmas movies, Christmas cookies, Christmas blend coffee, Christmas gifts, Christmas music… I’m a fan of it all.

Not everyone is as big of a fan of Christmas, however, and that is completely understandable. There can be a lot of stress associated with this time of year. Schedules become full and budgets become broken for many.

In my opinion, the cause of most of this stress is strongly linked to the consumerist Christmas culture we live in.

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with Christmas shopping, looking forward to opening gifts and children enjoying the anticipation of tearing away wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

The problem occurs however when ‘getting’, rather than ‘giving’ becomes our focus for the Christmas season.

This is my son, Asher’s, first Christmas so he won’t really remember anything about it, but I do know that one day I will have to show him that the apex of the holiday season isn’t about getting a bunch of cool toys.

To fight this battle we have to peek behind the Christmas trees, cookies and gifts and see the true meaning.

We have to see the miracle God gave us when He sent His Son to earth to live a life fully devoted to giving it away on our behalf.

We have to let that be our motivation to get our focus away from getting and on to giving. Just as Christ lived to serve others, we should make that our mission year-round – especially during the Christmas season.

“…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28

What you give doesn’t have to be attached to a dollar figure either.

Give the gift of appreciation this Christmas.

Give the gift of time to someone.

Give the gift of service.

Give the gift of admiration.

If you do have money to spare, think about leaving a waitress an extra generous tip.

Give a mailman, garbage collector, teacher, pastor, police officer, fireman or any other under-appreciated public servant a gift card to enjoy over the holiday season.

Give a family in need the Christmas that they could not afford apart from your generosity.

I have to be real though – serving others can be uncomfortable and awkward. And when you and your family has a million other things to do during the Christmas season it can be especially inconvenient to serve those outside of your circle.

As difficult as it may be, I know that I have a responsibility to raise my child with a give, not just ‘get” mentality.

And while manger scenes and Christmas plays are important – I don’t believe that is enough to teach a child the true meaning of Christmas. To teach a child the true meaning of Christmas I think you have to model it for them.

To be honest, I could easily spend the entire month of December watching Christmas movies, eating Christmas cookies and enjoying countless other holiday traditions, but while that may be comfortable and enjoyable – it isn’t what we are called to.

As fun and as comfortable as it would be to make Christmas simply about Santa Clause, pretty lights and toys we would be doing a disservice to our children by not teaching them the true meaning of Christmas.

One day when Asher grows older and the excitement of a materialistic Christmas  fades I pray that he will be left holding the true meaning in his heart.

At my house this year we will have Christmas lights, the decorated tree in the living room and plenty of gifts wrapped under the tree – but we will also be striving to look past all of that and gaze upon the true gift of Christmas and remember the words that Christ himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

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Tyler Speegle

Husband, blogger and serious coffee drinker. Passionate about helping others understand how to live relationally with God and escape a life of dry, mechanical religion so that they can live out their God given purpose.

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