By Catherine Bird

Cookies. All kinds of cookies. Chocolate fudge. Peanut butter fudge. Toffee. Starbuck’s salted caramel hot cocoa. Marshmallows. Lots of marshmallows. Papa Jack’s famous trash mix (you may call your Chex party mix something else—but it’s all yummy goodness). Not to mention—Jesus’ birthday cake, which is a Christmas Eve tradition. Mmmm, and then there’s homemade beignets on Christmas morning. Sooooo yummy. These are just a few of my family’s favorite things to bake, eat and share with friends and neighbors during the holidays. Yes, it’s a glutinous bounty.

We get so excited about our holiday baking trip to the store each year. Although, my sweet husband may cringe at the grocery shopping, he relishes his job as head taste tester. After hitting up the grocery store, we head over to Hobby Lobby to stock up on wrapping supplies and gift tins. I think I’m glowing as I type. I.Love.All.Of.This.

It all begins on Thanksgiving night when our elf, Lazarus, returns from the North Pole to hang out with us until Christmas Eve. My youngest love still believes, so that adds another element of fun. Christmas lights tours, The Nutcracker, Walk through Bethlehem (a local, awesome live nativity), Advent calendar with treats, the gingerbread workshop at our children’s museum, decorating our own casa for Christmas—again, these are just a few of our favorite holiday things.

Epic fail, people. We’ve bought into the Christmas commercialism as fed to us so silently, yet tastily by the enemy.

My heart melts when I hear my children tell other people the reason Santa brings three gifts is because that’s how many presents baby Jesus received. Yet, how much do we still spend on Christmas gifts for our children and extended family? By spending just a little less on gifts, we could easily free up our resources to love as Jesus loves by giving to those who really need help—especially during the Season of Giving.

You may stop reading now. It’s okay, but my hearts cries with, “Enough!”

I love the holidays and all the warm cheer that comes along with it. We are blessed to have the opportunity to bake treats and attend festive activities. But how much of this truly honors Jesus? I heard my youngest—the same darling that still believes in the magic of Santa—giving her big sister a word of advice about making her Christmas list. She said, “If it’s expensive, just ask Santa! The elves work for candy, and then your present doesn’t cost mama and daddy any pennies.”

What.

Have.

We.

Done?

Sure.  We prepare gifts for children who will be without their families each Christmas. We take food to the shelter to help those who are hungry. We donate clothes, toys and other items to “those in need.” But are we really serving them? Are we truly helping? It doesn’t feel like enough anymore.

Jesus is the ultimate example of what it means to be a servant leader. Lead by serving others. The wise men sought out baby Jesus after two poor teenagers gave birth to him in a barn. These men traveled great distances to pay honor and respect to the newborn King. We still celebrate and remember the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh the three wise men laid before our baby King.

Can you list everything you received for Christmas last year? What about everything you bought for others? How much you spent on holiday treats and trappings? What about the year before? Please, I’m so not judging. I am the first to say that I swallowed the fallacy our enemy has so cleverly built before us—hook, line and sinker.

My husband and I have decided to tell our youngest the truth about Santa. She’s in the third grade, so some may say it’s time. Others, you may think we’re crazy and robbing her of something magical. As we did with our other daughter, we’ll also reiterate the belief in Santa is a personal choice and one her friends’ parents may not have discussed yet. Translation: IT’S NOT HER SECRET TO TELL. No crying kids in class please…

We’re taking Christmas back from the enemy. The Christmas season is and should be full of love, warmth, caring and sharing. All of these are qualities Jesus exuded—and more! Memory building—absolutely. My children can’t tell you every gift they received last year, but they can describe in detail our family memories from holidays past. I’m getting back in the boat, friends. We’re giving Christmas back to the One who gave everything, everything for each one of us.

He is the real source of Christmas joy. So join with me, friends. Let’s pick up the mantle to serve others. Let’s commit together to resist the fancy wrapping of commercialized Christmas, because it’s empty inside. The gift Jesus gave is everlasting.

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.   ~Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

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