One real danger for families at this time of the year is our tendency to become swept away by all the pre-holiday hype that began in earnest the moment November rolled around. An alien life-form landing on our planet might well draw the conclusion that: "There are churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples . . . But it is evident to me that these American people worship at the Mall!"
To be honest, it wouldn't have to be an alien. I have made the same observation myself, and I have lived in this country for over twenty-six years!
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ made the following observation: "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also."
Here's the thing: if we are at all unclear regarding where our treasure is, then the next few weeks leading through Thanksgiving and into Christmas are going to be awfully dicey for us as families.
If our children are confused regarding these issues, then they will quite simply miss the real magic and the amazing redemptive and restorative quality of the holiday season. Wouldn't it be tragic to wake up on January 1st and realize that we - as parents - had failed in the opportunity we have to lead our families into an unforgettable and marvelous Christmas?
Most mistakes that we make happen accidentally, little by little, an insidious creeping of failure over a period of time that we really do not realize until the damage is done - kind of like the classic story of the sheep who nibbled themselves lost. The truth is that we can only avoid going down the wrong road if we are deliberate and pro-active in our response to the opportunities of parental leadership.
This year, we have time. We can head off the media frenzy with an in-home advertising campaign of our own; we can keep our children's heads from spinning by routinely talking about the family's priorities and "treasures" over dinner; we can set examples with our own spending limits and focus on charitable giving; we can deliberately turn the focus of household celebrations to grace and light as our antidote to deception; we can chose to lead our family rather than kowtow to the marketing frenzy of those who say we should worship the god of commerce and excess.
Simply put: It is in our hands now, so what are we going to do?
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