Arts & Culture

Skimping Christmas: Can We Afford to Simplify the Holidays?

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If you are like many families, you have boxes of Christmas decorations that only get used for a month out of the year (unless you are one of those people that get the decorations out after Halloween and combine with Thanksgiving). You might even continue to add to the decorations every year.

You might have collected over twenty different Santa figurines or even thirty-plus Snow Village homes and shops. Those wreaths for every window of a house and almost ten different little Christmas trees all over.

Especially the fifty different ornaments your family has collected along with the hundreds of Christmas lights, one set for the “family-room” tree and one for the “front-window” tree.

“Dressing-up” the house is a ton of fun and much enjoyment can come from it. It can be fun for the whole family and bring you together.

But is there a time when we should stop and reverse this trend of collecting and storing many of these items?

Many of us have storage units we pay $1,000 a year for to put away items we do just fine without most of the year. I bet if you took a look at many storage units, the items in the unit aren’t worth as much as a year of rent for that unit.

Proverbs 15:16 says, “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.”

This is an age-old argument that “wealth is evil”, “materialism is Satan’s hobby”, and “you should give up all your stuff and live in poverty.” I’m not telling you to go sell all your stuff, but I am asking, “Does this stuff cause us more trouble and cost us more than it is worth?”

How many hours are spent taking out all the decorations?

How many hours are spent putting them away, while telling ourselves “we’re just going to use less next year.”

How many times do we have to yell at the kids for almost breaking something, or even actually breaking it? The stress of making sure everything looks just right.

We are blessed here in America, and praise God for that! Does this mean that we should continue to take his blessing and bless ourselves, or should we take his blessings and bless others instead?

What if we took all those hours spent putting up, taking down, and “fixing” the decorations and spent time with the kids playing games or visiting someone we haven’t talked to in a while?

What if we take that $1,000 we spend on a storage unit and give it to someone who can’t even fill up their kids’ plates for dinner?

I’m not saying, give it all up! I’m saying, be willing to give it up, to clear up space, and be on the look-out for how you can do that.

This Christmas, let’s celebrate the Lord come to earth, in a manger, not in an inn because, remember, “There was no room.”

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  • heartsandmindsbooks

    I have a question about something that I pick up in your pieces from time to time. It is curious to me, and I was wondering what this author, or the editors at at the Institute might say.

    It is this paragraph that insinuates that there are those who say “wealth is evil” or that “we should give up all our stuff” and “live in poverty.”

    It seems sloppy, to me, to make these accusations without saying who, really, commends this. Certainly within our general Reformed and evangelical circles, nobody says this. It feels like a “straw man” argument and a bit of a put down of somebody, but with the clarity or courage to say who it is you are complaining/warning about.

    Here’s my take: nobody within evangelicalism (let alone broader Protestantism) says, or even implies this. Older leaders who have been accused of saying this (I’m thinking of Tony Campolo or Ron Sider) have denounced this extremism over and over. Their younger counterparts — say, Shane Claiborne — also reject that line of thinking and neither practice nor commend giving away everything. I’ve heard Shane talk about buying diamond rings (and making sure they aren’t “blood diamonds” by supporting independent jewelers!) No covert gnostic hatred of “stuff” there!

    One of the most powerful recent calls to a more simple and generous sort of Christmas practice comes from the Advent Conspiracy DVDs and movement. These are admittedly hard-hitting about the excesses of holiday gift-giving and the stress and waste that comes with it, but, again, the leaders of that movement are clear that some gift giving is a fine thing. Even this effort to re-focus our Advent and Christmas season doesn’t say wealth is evil, let alone that we should give up all our stuff.

    If you want to posit your position in contract-distinction to other visions or teachings, that is fine. But routinely trotting out this odd accusation and rehashing some old debate that hardly exists, as far as I can tell, seems to me to come across a bit snarky and cranky.

    What am I missing?

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