Myths about Christmas – that Christmas is not about gift giving

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Thursday 25 December 2008

Whenever I hear about “the true spirit of Christmas” I always feel a little bit confused or left out, as I really have no idea what the true spirit of Christmas is. It is usually parroted by anti-materialists or people who don’t like Santa or anyone who wants to rant about how the big department stores have taken over Christmas and turned it into just one big gift giving party. Well, this is perhaps what I think is the biggest myth of all: that Christmas is not about gift giving.

If it’s one thing that Christmas is about, it’s gift giving. In fact the ultimate gift was given on the very first Christmas when God gave his son to the world (and in so doing gave the world to his son). And if the only thing people (whether Christian or non-Christian) associate with Christmas is gift-giving and generosity at least it’s better than associating Christmas with not giving gifts and stinginess. But Christians recognise (or should recognise) that the whole caper of being generous and gift-giving is but a small symbol of God’s generosity and God’s ultimate gift – Jesus (which can also be described as the incarnation or the word become flesh if you want to use some religious jargon).

Because Christians are not just celebrating the birth of a baby, but they are celebrating the appearing of the grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the free gift from God (to use some more jargon), which Christians say ultimately comes through the person of Jesus. Or as the bible more eloquently puts it in the book of Isaiah Chapter 9 verse 6 (and which is famously sung about in Handel’s messiah), we are celebrating:

For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a son is given.


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