Christmas is just a few weeks away. As advertisers, retailers, and media have been reminding us for the past month or two, it’s time to buy those holiday gifts, get your orders in ahead before the rush, and get prepared for that Holly Jolly Holiday Season.
In the meantime, one of the concerns most of us have is how much is going to be spent on gifts. Some may be more concerned about it than others, depending on how much money one has to spend.
According to Investopedia (updated Nov. 8, 2019),
Nearly every year since 2008, the amount of money that American consumers spend on holiday gifts has been increasing over the previous year.
For 2019, industry experts expect the average American to spend $920 per person on holiday gifts, up from $885 in 2018 and reaching a total of more than $1 trillion in holiday spending.
Over the past decade, e-commerce has captured an increasing swath of the holiday spending market share, with many buying their toys, electronics, and jewelry online.
When I go Christmas shopping, I’m astounded to see carts piled high with all the presents shoppers have purchased. Check out lines seem to stretch out endlessly while customers stack their selected goods along the counter. Cashiers are frantically trying to keep up with the customers anxious to get their items bagged and taken away. One by one, I see customers doling out their hard earned money which is usually in the form of credit or debit cards or, sometimes, out right cash. On rare occasions these days, you might see checks written out. But now, there’s a growing trend to order on line or over the internet (a.k.a., e-commerce) as was previously mentioned in the above report.
Indeed, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to buy gifts for those we love, but it doesn’t come without a price. It takes money to celebrate it, and more and more each year, or so it appears. CHA-CHING!$!
Now, as we think about the very first Christmas—long before it was ever called by that name—one might ask if it was costly or not. Of course, the cost wouldn’t be in terms of money, per se. But, when you think about it, it DID cost something. For example, as one person wrote,
It cost Joseph and Mary the comforts of home during a long, arduous journey on foot and donkey to the town of Bethlehem, (Luke 2:1-5). Even after Jesus was born, it cost them to have to flee to Egypt in order to protect the Christ child from the evil intentions of King Herod who wanted him killed, (Matthew 2:13-15).
It cost many mothers and fathers in and around Bethlehem the lives of their babies two years old and younger by the wicked Herod who had them unmercifully massacred as he sought out the Christ child, (Matthew 2:16-18).
It cost the shepherds the neglect of their livelihood for a journey to Bethlehem to see the Babe lying in a manger, (Luke 2:8-20).
It cost the wise men a long journey (likely up to 2 years) searching for the Christ child while, carrying expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to present to the Child, (Matthew 2:1-11). It also cost them changed lives to see and worship the Holy Child, (Matthew 2:11). Then, they had to escape for their lives by going another route home so as to avoid the threat of King Herod, (Matthew 2:12).
In time, it cost the early apostles and the church persecution and even sometimes martyrdom, (Matthew 10:16-23).
Over the years, it has cost missionaries untold suffering and privation just for reaching out to others with the Good News of Christ and his Kingdom.
And think of what Christmas cost our Heavenly Father. It cost him more than all for it cost the life of his only begotten Son, (John 3:16).
Finally, what did it cost Jesus? It cost him a life of service and sacrifice, a cruel death on the cross that is unmatched in history. (Pastor T.T. Crabtree, Pastor’s Annual, Zondervan Publishing)
Does Christmas cost for us? You bet. First, we DO think of what it costs in terms of money. Comedian Larry Wilde once opined, “Christmas is the season when people run out of money before they run out of friends.”
But it can cost in other ways, too…
Think about the cost of accumulating too many calories that come with the Holiday Season. It’s so hard to resist those delectable, irresistible, morsels of delight—cookies, candy canes, cheese balls, brownies, shaped with festive designs—making the season one glorious binge, not to mention the consumption of beverages from hot chocolate, eggnog, and punch to wine, rum, and liquor (Note: Consumption of alcoholic drinks are not my preference anytime.).
Overindulging is a great temptation that’s proven to come with cost to our digestive system as well as to our heart, blood pressure, weight, and that bulging tire around our waist. Perhaps our guilt of eating too much during this season is why so many resolve to go on diets and enter exercise programs when the new year has dawned. Just think of the costs that could be saved if a little more moderation or, better yet, abstinence were practiced. But then I could hear some bemoan that this would take the festive part out of the holidays. And, yet, is this REALLY what it’s all about?
Christmas could cost you some sadness: memories of loved ones who are no longer living, losing one’s job and source of income this time of year, suffering from an accident or ill-health, facing a split in one’s marriage, feeling loneliness and isolation, being bombarded by all the bad news in the world, and so forth. Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon remarked, “Christmas is a holiday that persecutes the lonely, the frayed, and the rejected.”
But even in the midst of having a “blue” Christmas, one can enjoy cashing in on a funny joke or two…
There was six-year-old Beth. Little Beth was asked what she was going to give her brother for Christmas. “
“I don’t know,” she answered.
“Well, what did you give him last year?”
“Oh,” she said, “I gave him the chicken pox.!”
It could cost you an embarrassing moment…
Young Stevie forgot his lines in the Sunday School’s Christmas pageant. His mother was in the front row to prompt him. She gestured and formed words silently with her lips. But that didn’t help. Her son’s memory went blank.
Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, “I am the light of the world…I am the light of the world!”
Suddenly, the boy spoke out, “My mommy is the light of the world!”
His mother felt like hiding under the seat.
Considering how much Christmas may cost, you can’t emphasize enough how important it is to focus on the REAL reason why the season should be celebrated in the first place. If the bottom line is not centered on the birth of Jesus, then ChristMAS will be ChristLESS. And that will come with a huge cost. For if Christ and his teachings are not factored into the cost of Christmas, then truly the holiday has lost its true purpose and meaning.
Celebrating Jesus’ birth brings to mind why Jesus was born and what it all has to do with his place in our lives. It’s why we sing “Joy to the World” and all the other Christian songs that herald his birth with the hope it gives his followers. So, whatever cost that comes to you in preparation of the Festive Season, remember to keep Christ in the heart of it all.
Good News to YOU!
P.S. To give you a smile in this stressful time of the year, here’s a funny parody of the Holiday Classic, “It’s Beginning to Cost a Lot Like Christmas (new holiday song!): http://youtu.be/9TnhQ3lqxoc