I was shopping at Target, when a dad entered the store with his two kids, pushing a big red cart.
The kids, who were very enthusiastic shoppers, darted over near me to look at some of the displays with bright-eyed expressions. You could tell that this dad had done a wonderful job of building up the moment.
The little girl looked like she was about six, and was very, very excited to buy a gift for her mom. She said, “Ooooh! Look, Daddy! We should get her these! Hot pink and leopard!” She held up a hat and glove set that was obviously meant for a little girl. I hid a small smile, and watched as discretely as I could from my spot over by the gloves.
The dad feigned enthusiasm and said, “Yea? You think Mommy would wear that?”
The girl looked thoughtfully back at the set she was holding up and said, “Well… I would.”
“I know honey,” her dad said kindly, “but we need to think about what Mommy would like.”
A few seconds later the girl found a charm bracelet and said, “Oh, Daddy, look! It has little charms… There’s some tiny scissors! And an owl!”
Again the dad said, “But Mommy doesn’t really sew. And I’m not sure she’s into owls…”
The daughter said, “Well, it’s a nice owl. I like it.”
“Ok, let’s look over here..” said the dad, moving his eager shoppers to a different jewelry display. But a moment later, he was saying, “Uh… well… that one’s just a little loud for Mommy.”
Last thing I saw, before their cart rounded out of sight, was the little girl holding out a glittery tulle skirt from the girls’ section of the store. And the dad was saying, “Honey, that’s just a little small for Mommy.”
I had so much fun chuckling to myself over this little girl’s enthusiasm for the things that she liked. But then, as they drifted out of earshot, I realized what I had been doing the whole time: Looking at scarves and gloves and earrings that I liked. I was enjoying the pretty things and wondering if I should put a few in my basket–not for those on my list, but for me.
I had come in to the store to purchase some gloves for the homeless shelter our church is donating to, but how quickly I had deviated to my own wishlist. My sister and I laugh about the way we shop for others (and often each other) with our own tastes in mind, saying, “one for you, and one for me,” as we put duplicates into the cart.
It’s so easy to make Christmas about me–my wishes, my tastes, and my hopes and plans for our family. It irritates me that my husband just wants a nap. I irks me that my kids don’t want me to take their picture. And it bothers me that no one appreciates just how hard I’ve worked to make our Christmas celebration match the Pinterest images dancing through my head.
But these reactions of mine indicate how far I’ve drifted from Christmas. Christmas was the day our Lord Jesus veiled his glory and became a man. Christmas was the day he humbly emptied himself and took the form of a servant. Our servant.
How then, can I celebrate Christmas if I’m focusing on my own interests? How can I celebrate Jesus when I insist on my own agenda? These are the opposite of celebrating Christmas.
As we spend the next few days shopping and cooking and cleaning and wrapping, may we truly celebrate Christmas. May we reflect Jesus, our Lord, as we, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than myself…“, looking not to our “own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phillipians 2:4-7)
(an updated post from 2012)