I am sitting at the mall while one of my kids is at her dance lessons. For an hour I can sit in the food court and work on my laptop and, although I did not anticipate it, I get to listen to Christmas music too. Christmas at the mall has begun. I don’t want to sound like the Scrooge but I know the motivation for the mall to play Christmas music is to get people into the “purchasing spirit.” It seems to be working as there are a lot of people here buying a lot of stuff and I am sure that many of those items are Christmas presents. Christmas is certainly good for the economy. The Christmas ambience at the mall got me thinking of what I should get Kim for Christmas. She is really hard to buy for. It is a yearly struggle for me that begins in early November and only ends when she opens the gift and looks pleased with her presents. Listening to Silver Bells in the background is certainly motivating me to start searching for that perfect gift. But the best motivation of all is knowing that the lines at the mall will only get longer the more I procrastinate.

Not to sound Grinchy but I really hope for a Christmas when the focus is not about buying or receiving presents. The focus should be about Jesus. It is fair to say that Christmas is no longer a Christian holiday, not that it ever was in the first place. Jesus told us to remember his death but not his birth. So Easter is the only real Christian holiday in my opinion. But there is nothing wrong with trying to make Christmas a Jesus celebration. Nothing even wrong with giving gifts but I think the buying gifts can so easily get out of control and take over the holiday. I don’t want that to happen in my family. Can we refocus on Jesus this Christmas? I am going to try. Maybe a bunch of us can try together. This gift-purchasing emphasis of Christmas is certainly, as the kids like to say today, a first-world problem.

One way to make Jesus more central to Christmas is to use his birthday as a time to care about the things Jesus cares about … those who live in third-world conditions. There are some giving guides around the church that I encourage you to pick up. The giving guides are catalogues of ideas and options of gifts you can give to people in impoverished conditions. The giving guides are great tools to help us make our giving, a natural part of Christmas, more like Jesus and bless the people of this world who need it the most. And the best part is this. You don’t have to stand in line at the mall with thousands of other people.