David W. Hegg: Making the most of Christmas

Senior Pastor David W. Hegg delivers a sermon about applying The Bible to one's daily life at a Speaking by Listening Conference at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

I love Christmas. I love the lights, the songs, the story, and even – at times – the pace. But who among us hasn’t quietly thought it would be great if the season were a bit shorter, much simpler, and still satisfying?

Most people, when asked about their favorite Christmas memories, flash back to childhood, smiling as they remember grandparents, cookies, snowmen, cousins, and that one special gift that made the year-long wait worth it all.

But what they don’t realize is that, as children, we celebrated Christmas simply, with more enjoyment than obligation. And at the center of everything was having the ones you loved close by.

What would it look like if we regained some childish perspective and moved through the season with a different perspective? Here are some thoughts to help those of you who are sick and tired of getting sick and tired of Christmas.

First on my list of new lenses through which to view the season is family. My greatest Christmas joy will be to have all my kids, their spouses, and their kids in my house at the same time. There will be laughter, and memories shared, and lots of hugs and smiles. There will be a few tears as well as sentiment reminds us just how wonderful it is to be together.

Here’s the deal. Relationships are the best gifts we ever receive. If you have good ones, use them to the fullest this Christmas. Make time for those who mean the most to you, and if that means saying no to those obligatory parties, then you have my permission to do so.

And if your relationships are a bit fractured, Christmas is the perfect time to start repairing them. Take a good, hard look at your side of the relational ledger and take responsibility for what you contributed to the cold war. Then be the adult and offer up a sincere apology connected to a thoughtful gift of Christmas goodies and see if you can’t find some room for real reconciliation. It will make your Christmas much more satisfying.

Second, take advantage of the folk lore that surrounds the season. If you research it, you’ll find Santa Claus grew out of the historic figure of St. Nicholas, a generous bishop whose life really is worth emulating. And the history behind the Christmas tree can also help you make your celebration so much more meaningful, especially for your children.

Don’t forget the Christmas carols! They are loaded with bits and pieces of the real story of Christmas and always can be counted on to make the mood celebratory. Lastly, take in a good family Christmas concert or play. At Grace Baptist Church, our “Finding Christmas” is an excellent choice, playing Dec. 8-Dec. 10.

Third, be a good manager of your finances. Too often we think spending more than we should will make those around us happier. But that never works. How many times have parents sighed watching the kids play with the boxes more than the toys? And how many times have we exclaimed in January when the bills come rolling in that “next year we’ll be better”?

Here’s my simple advice. When it comes to buying gifts, think “thoughtful” rather than “impressive.” Most people have purchased what they wanted throughout the year, and another expensive gift just adds itself to their already bloated closets of stuff.

But the thoughtful gift, the one that says “I really know you,” will always be greatly appreciated.

There it is. Pay attention to family, folk lore, and finances, and if you’re careful, you’ll find the season to be more enjoyable, more satisfying, and certainly more meaningful for you and all those around you. And who knows? You just might find the season leaves you rejuvenated and ready to launch into the new year with a smile.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. Ethically Speaking” publishes Saturdays in The Signal.

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