Christmastime is full of traditions. The tree, caroling, the presents (wrapping, giving, getting, unwrapping) – these are part and parcel of the season. We look forward to them, and reserve them for this time of year. Opening birthday presents just isn’t the same as opening Christmas presents. Maybe it’s because everybody gets presents at the same time, instead of the focus being on one person.
In our house, there are occasionally presents a bit earlier than Christmas morning. Santa gets some help from my parents, who usually visit in the fall and leave behind a bag of gifts. And we’re generally pretty good about leaving them alone — until December hits. I don’t know what it is about that. Might be the end-of-year stuff at work, or being busy with all the activities. Anyway, sometimes a present happens to somehow become opened before Christmas. And then wrapped back up again, so we can enjoy it on Christmas Day.
We still feel bad about it.
So I decided to find the right thing to do by looking in the Bible. James 4:17, from The Message, says
In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
Ooooh, I don’t like that one. Besides, it’s not hurting anybody, so it must be okay, right? Right?
Anyway, let’s find a happy verse to balance that one out. Ecclesiastes 8:6 in New American Standard says
For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him.
Yeah, that fits. Brings me up to about even. Better look around some more. I want a positive self-image. I Corinthians 10:23, from the Amplified Version, says
All things are legitimate [permissible–and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].
You know, this isn’t giving me the comfort I was looking for. Let’s try again,from just a bit farther down the page, with I Corinthians 10:30-31 from the English Standard Version:
If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
I’m starting to understand something here. Maybe it’s not about me and what I get. Do I enjoy an occasional pick-me-up? Sure I do, and sometimes I get it from chocolate, and sometimes from parental favors. But really, it all comes down to II Corinthians 9:15. In almost any version you look at, it says
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.
And that is the best tradition of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season.