what

Okay, so WELCOME to my new ongoing series where i ask a WHAT IF question and invite you to respond, and possibly say a few things myself, or not.

Today’s question and the first of the series is WHAT IF CHRISTMAS WAS NOT ALL ABOUT ME? 

This is what some of you had to say:

Rory Berry: Christmas is not about me.

Sean Greathead: What is Christmas was about being a light in the world and loving people?

Trevor Ruddick Black: ‘Christmas has always been about family for me. A time of reflection on how we treat those we love. Sometimes a very sad time, but hopefully a moment to share together and move forward.’

Uel Maree: What if Christmas wasn’t the day that’s actually someone else’s birthday but you still expect gifts?

Bruce Collins: If Christmas wasn’t about me, I’d really understand it. It’s not even about gifts, fanfare and decorated trees. Maybe then, I’d take the time to see that it’s all about the love of our saviour made incarnate in the form of a baby destined to die. That thought on its own is brutal in its beauty, and deeply humbling. The truth of that should open our hearts to the plight of those around us.

Leanne Bennett:What if Christmas was an opportunity to speak affirming words over your family at the dinner table, and that gift is enough?

Rene August: If Christmas was not about me… I would need to ask who it’s about?  Our family do small R50 gifts for Christmas and big birthdays… Coz Christmas is about Jesus for the world and my birthday is about me in my family

Siki Dlanga: Culturally for me, Christmas has never been about me. It has always been about community. I don’t fit in the culture where Christmas has to do with gifts for me. I come from a culture where Christmas gives a gift of reunion to family. It is about feasting. It is about sharing with those who don’t have.

Dalene Reyburn: I would get excited about controlling the things I could in such a way as to delight others, and I would take delight in letting God control the rest.
Craig Stewart: We’re a bit of a Christmas lite family so I’ve struggled with the question without feeling self righteous smile emoticon. If Christmas wasn’t about me then we could all enjoy the simplicity of being together and celebrating a deeply significant story and its implications for us in 2015. God entering into a family at the margins of a repressive empire – where would he be today?
Barry Lewis: It’s a good question: WHAT IF CHRISTMAS WAS NOT ALL ABOUT ME? Having kids it’s defo not about me anyway…smile emoticon but my gut reaction was an image that fills my imagination of a large table of feasting laid on for the home challenged guys I come into contact with on a near daily basis. Behold, the feast! For the kings of the street….some thoughts.
Linda Martindale: Christmas – an excellent time to remember how to live the rest of the year #generosity #compassion #christmascheer
Christmas – a pagan holiday that somehow manages to point us back to the most irreverent, subversive, revolutionary of love to walk this earth
Christmas – I am challenged to ask Jesus to show me how to remember the commemoration of His birth – not so much by putting my feet up but by asking whose feet He invites me to wash
Wendy Lewin:Not sure if this is what you wanted, but my first thought was, “Let’s put the Christ back into Christians”…not sure who I am quoting. I feel like living a Christ-centered life all year through would make Christmas a time of huge celebration in completely upside down ways because we would be celebrating something and Someone which/Who has permeated our entire reality: In fact, in Whose reality we have chosen to live and move and have our being. So, “let’s put the Christ back into Christians”
Steve Graybill: Christmas has never been all about me…well except maybe when I was ten years old or younger, but Paul says something like when I was a child I acted as a child but as I have matured I have put childish things in the past. All of that said I think a better question might be What if Christmas was not about feeding the imperialistic Capitalist machine?
Then there was this one by someone who asked to remain anonymous and i left their whole statement in, because i think the parts about the question are probably as revealing if not more than the answer itself…

Anonymous: Responding to the question WHAT IF CHRISTMAS WAS NOT ALL ABOUT ME? privately, because I believe my answer would really upset my family. If Christmas *were* all about me, there would be no presents. Money normally spent on presents would be spent on funding a Christmas Day meal in the inner city for homeless people. But this kind of suggestion would be shunned by the rest of my family and labelled ‘super-spiritual’; ‘kill-joy’. I would be fed lines about how Jesus wants us to enjoy ourselves and how can you do that to the children?? … In many ways they are very materialistic, so to suggest no presents or a change in tradition would be considered a very personal attack. I am too scared to even suggest the idea because of the responce. And yes, they are all devoted Christians. Truly, I wish it *were* all about me. You may post this anonymously if you’d like.

Then Finally Eleanor had a longer question and we went back and forth a little bit on possible answers:

Eleanor Fraser: Your question was the final catalyst driving me to post this just now: Christmas & gifts are on my mind. I love giving gifts, especially to people I love. I love lots of people. Lots. I have a large family ~ & I mean large, with a capital L. I have 7 godchildren. Who all have siblings (or almost all!). & I have lovely friends.

What I have come to call my “Christmas Project” is huge. 50+ in a tightly managed year. Overwhelming. Expensive, even when gifts are kept small & simple. Tiring. & increasingly filled with dissonance. The dissonance feels even stronger this year.

But what to do?? Over the last decade I have tried many different things ~ some things to reduce the dissonance, some things to try to make the whole thing more manageable, some aimed at both. & yet I here I still am.
The only thing I haven’t tried is simply stopping altogether. But, wait! What will all these precious people think? Will they still know that they are important to me? Will I still be important to them? How will I feel with my gift “manger” empty? But, wait, what if Christmas wasn’t about me?

Thank you Annie Kirke, Brett Fish Anderson & Pope Francis for asking questions that have given the courage to ask the question out loud, or at least on FB!

Seemed a bit long to share with you but there you go!

Brett: The number 50 jumped out at me cos 52 weeks in a year – what if you took a leaf out of i think it was Leanne who comments on the last post about words spoken at the table but instead of saving up 50 peoples’ words for one table you make a commitment [too late for this year] to write one letter every week [can be a note, doesn’t have to be elaborate] to one of your 50 people and Christmastime is when you deliver the notes…

If you read the links to some of the previous posts i wrote i have addressed this somewhat – one year i told everyone they would not be getting presents and worked out what i would spend [which was R1000 or R2000 about ten years ago so a lot of money at the time, for me anyways] and then found a family in need and donated it to them or if i remember correctly it was divided between two families…

But so many other creative ideas on how to reshape, reimagine, reinvest at Christmas time and bring those people you love and care about into it…

Eleanor: Thanks for your encouraging words, Brett. I like the letter-a-week idea very much!

One year I found NGOs/causes relevant to each person & donated in their names & then gave them info about the recipient. Better. Seemed to take more energy somehow, but less dissonance.

Brett: Absolutely. Also the opportunity to subtly teach a lesson against consumerism that even if they don’t appreciate in the moment will hopefully have a lasting impact on them. The extra effort is no doubt worth it for what can be achieved long term.

And that is all we have to say about that.

But what about you?

WHAT IF CHRISTMAS WAS NOT ALL ABOUT ME?

Take a moment to imagine a scenario where that question formed the heart or basis of this time and what difference do you think it would make in your life and in the lives around you. If you have an answer to add, please leave it in the comments…

grinch.jpg

[To return to the start of this series, click here]

Advertisements