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Essay

Bring on the Gifts

By December 20, 2013 No Comments
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I know, I know… I’m supposed to say that Christmas isn’t about lights, or trees, or the gifts we receive; I’m supposed to remember the “reason for the season” as they say around here. I’m supposed to say that I hate black Friday (or Brown Thursday) along with every other manifestation of manufactured consumerism that keeps the economic machine humming along. I know we’re supposed to make our own gifts, create our own cards, or do something uniquely generous in the spirit of the Christmas season. I get it. But here’s the problem: I like giving my kids Christmas presents. Personally, I don’t need, or want, anything this Christmas. But I love to shop for my kids—it gives me an excuse to waste enormous amounts of time in the toy aisle. My kids are still young enough to enjoy receiving toys. They make their lists and tape them in strategic places where my wife and I will find them. They drop hints, or they just plain out tell us exactly what they want. I’m more than ok with it all.

We do have our family rituals. The meal is a weird combination of unhealthy snacks: nachos, barbecue weenies, pigs in a blanket, puppy chow, and Pepsi. Why Pepsi? Because one year I picked up a 2-liter and done—it’s part of the meal from here until kingdom come, or at least until the kids move out. We know the meal has become a ritual because the kids talk about it—they’re already asking if we’re going to have nachos and weenies, making sure mom and dad aren’t changing things up. But my favorite part is watching the kids open gifts. They’re always excited, and very grateful. The flurry of wrapping paper and squeals usually gives way to the sound of kids playing. It’s beautiful… or at least I think it’s beautiful. I know that time is against me; soon, my kids will want expensive electronic gizmos that will be obsolete by next Christmas, and I’ll long for the days of girl’s dolls, Hobbit action figures, and legos. So I’m going to enjoy it while I can. Merry Christmas to all… and bring on the presents!

Jason Lief

Dr. Jason Lief teaches courses in Christian education and youth ministry. A Northwestern College graduate, he served as the chaplain for Pella (Iowa) Christian High School while earning a master’s degree in theology from Wheaton College Graduate School. He also completed a doctorate in practical theology from Luther Seminary. He previously taught theology and youth ministry at Dordt College for 10 years. Dr. Lief is the author of “Poetic Youth Ministry: Loving Young People by Learning to Let Them Go” and "Christianity and Heavy Metal as Impure Sacred Within the Secular West: Transgressing the Sacred.”

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