“It’s the holiday season so hoop-de-do and hickory dock, and don’t forget to hang up your sock! ‘Cause just exactly at 12 o’clock, he’ll be coming down the chimney, down!” Those lyrics by Andy Williams “Happy Holiday” song have been stuck in my head this Christmas season.
I love the song. It’s super catchy, upbeat, and classic. But it’s pretty much all about those goodies that we can get so wrapped up in during this Christmas season.
And by goodies, I mean more stuff. Lots and lots of more stuff that we ask for during this season.
This year is the first year my family decided to do a secret santa gift exchange between my siblings and my husband. My sister asked me and my other two siblings about our thoughts on that idea because we have usually all bought each other gifts in the past.
I was immediately in favor of the idea because it meant buying less gifts overall, and I have been financially stressed lately.
I quit my job in late October and lost my health benefits. For the past month, my husband and I have been trying to navigate our finances without my salary and with increased health insurance costs. Those type of changes tend to stress me out, and it’s been interesting to face that change during the season that we typically spend more.
For the secret santa gift exchange, we were all supposed to create an online gift list with links to items that we want. Our secret santa gift exchange spending amount was anywhere in between 20 and 40 dollars.
So I started brainstorming ideas of things I would want that would be a good fit for that price range. I came up with a few ideas and started to search for examples online. It seems like such an easy task, right?
Well what started as an easy task, ended up not being so easy for me. And it’s because I was trying so hard to get the most out of my wish list.
It’s not that I had a very specific idea of what I wanted and was worried I wouldn’t get that. It’s that I was used to getting more gifts for Christmas, and I was afraid that the one gift I would get would disappoint.
I felt pressure to make the list in a way that would give me the highest chance of getting the best 20-40 dollar gift I could think of.
We care a lot about money and possessions. I do more than I like to admit. I budgeted with my husband, Jon, yesterday, and we are not in a good place financially. We will be okay for now, but we are not in a sustainable place. That is stressful. I have felt thrown off by it all day.
My old pastor used to talk about how often Jesus talked about money. He said that if he talked about money as often as Jesus did, he would be preaching about it much more often than any of us are used to. In one article I read, it said that the only topic Jesus talked about more than money is the Kingdom of God.
We hate to see the greed in our hearts. And with the wealth in our nation, it is is easy to compare ourselves to someone we judge as more greedy than ourselves in order to feel better about who we are.
But we aren’t fooling God. He knows our hearts, and he wants all of our hearts. He isn’t satisfied with our heart being divided. He doesn’t want us putting security in our salaries, abilities, and possessions. He wants more for us. He wants freedom and true security for us that is never changing and eternal.
This is a hard topic. I am not an expert, and I am struggling with you. But I am hopeful. I am hopeful in the throne of grace. It’s God’s grace that leads us to admit our true poverty and cling to him. Wealth and possessions will never give us true life. Without grace, we are spiritually bankrupt. With grace, we can hold loosely the material and be rich in love and mercy.