I’m not attempting to push you into the spirit of Christmas yet (although for many of you it’s already too late!). But I am fascinated by the comparison of Christmases 100 years ago and those of today.
Our celebrations today have some of the same parallels as those of the 1920s. Back then most had trees (usually put up close to Christmas because many were lit by candles and too dangerous to leave up for long.) Decorations were typically homemade and those who had electricity had plug-in lights. Some light strands were water-proof so some had outdoor decorations.
Stockings were hung, not necessarily on the fireplace and were not the decorated and enormous ones we hang today. They were regular socks taken out of service for one day to hold the treasures of Christmas morning. They would contain an apple or orange, some walnuts, a candy cane and often raisins and maybe a small toy or two.
Most folks didn’t go all out for Christmas. Times were tough and no one had yet come up with the idea of easy credit where you could spread out the cost of your giving over the next twelve or more months. Hence, handmade items like socks, mittens and scarves were fairly common gifts.
For the more affluent, Raggedy Ann dolls or die-cast metal toys were given or possibly a wagon or roller skates.
Move ahead to my generation and things were certainly looking up! Compared to my Dad, my Christmases were lavish. My folks were able to do more and give more and we kids were able to receive more and enjoy more and we did. It was good.
As parents of young boys in the 60s and 70s we hopefully were able to offer an even more liberal expression of the spirit of the season than previous generations.
And the beat goes on.
Halloween is now over and we gathered enough sugar to make it through the next month. Thanksgiving is about here and then the shrill call of holiday merchants and marketers will rise in its intensity. We will see more than we desire … be invited to spend more than we have. Once again conventional wisdom tries to get us to believe that ‘he who gathers the most toys wins.’
God can bless us through material gain and it brings his Father’s heart joy just as it brings joy to us as parents. Just guard against using the material things in your life (even in abundance) from defining who you are. You’re worth far more to God than the accumulation of your stuff!
“ … if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.” Psalm 62:10 NLT