Christmas and Finances
Crystal Miller

I love the Christmas season. It can be a wonderful time of year. I love baking cookies, I love Christmas music, and I love Christmas movies and the decorations. I love trimming the tree with my children and I love giving gifts and doing special little things for neighbors, friends and family. I love the wonderful time each year that my family and I can have together to make memories. It is a special time to focus on the love of God and thank Him for sending His Son Jesus into this world.

However this time of year can, at the same moment, be a burden to some because there is so much expectation on us. Sometimes the expectations put on us are just more than we can bear. There may be family issues or issues of differing values about what is important in our life verses our extended families. But often the biggest expectation this time of year is a financial one. For most, there are only so many dollars in the budget and only so much that can go around.

Often the financial expectations of this time of year become the main focus. I do know that not everyone who reads this is struggling financially but I know many families, especially young families trying to make a start in today’s world, do face these issues. Making the choice to live on one income certainly brings with it many challenges and often Christmas and finances can be a big one.

I have known of families going into debt in order to do their part in gift giving for expectant family. I have known of families who forgo doing things for their children in order to spend the money on family members who were expecting what could not be otherwise.

I know of a family who experienced many financial hardships one year as they worked to provide just the basics for their life. Yet they had extended family who was still expecting them to participate in the Christmas “festivities” by bringing the proper gifts. This meant a certain dollar amount needed to be spent on each gift.

What difficult issues to have to face at a time of year that should be filled with warmth, joy and thankfulness to God. Our society certainly has lost the focus on what has the most value and with that lost focus it can be easy to get pulled into the stresses of the season.

So what is the solution? I don’t have answers for everyone but I will share an important realization that was given to me one Christmas season in a sermon. When it comes to spending money on Christmas we still need to be a good steward of our money. In the Old Testament we see during the festival of the firstfruits that the Lord required people to bring an offering to the temple that was a portion of what he had blessed them with (Lev. 23:9-10). For some this may have been a lot and for others it was a little. The size of the offering was not the emphasis but the fact that what was given was a portion from what God had blessed them with.. No one went into debt or stressed over what was expected… it had already been given to them. So the message in this for us that Sunday morning was simple, give from what God has already blessed you with.

Rest in God and His choices for your family. Let expectant family know you love them but you can not allow them to put expectations on you that are more than what is wise or in the best interest of your family. If you have the finances to participate but not in the way that is expected by your family then do what you can do; bless them from what God has given you and trust Him on this.

Another financial aspect is the expectations from our children. We live in a materialistic society and we can easily begin to feel pressure to make Christmas into something that may be more than what you can do. Or even that each year should be better than the last. Let us not be looking to the world to dictate what expectations we should have for Christmas morning. Instead I go back to the basic life principles that govern the rest of my year, “Simple Living”; living a simple life and giving from my hands and heart. Giving from what God has blessed me with. Children can easily get caught up in the materialism of the season and over the years I have had to sit my children down to discuss the true meaning and joy of the season with them. This helps them to keep the right focus too.

To me, as a believer, this time of year is not about living up to a standard that is causing stress or pain or difficulties. It is about our God coming down in human form and giving his life as an offering to save our souls. In all the hustle and bustle of this holiday season let us keep in mind an eternal perspective on what the real gift is and what is of the greatest value to us all.

Luke Chapter 2 vs. 8-11
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And *behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

May each of you have a warm and blessed holiday month focusing your hearts and homes on Jesus and His unfathomable love for us all!

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