I want to start this blog off by saying thank you so much to everyone who helped us make Giving Tuesday a huge success for All Things New this year. I was hoping by now we would have learned exactly how much of the giving on that Tuesday will be matched, but we have not yet heard. I can report that we brought in close to $20,000 in donations that Tuesday! What an incredible day and thank you so much to everyone who created a fundraiser, gave to a fundraiser, and prayed that GOD would bless ATN on that day. We really needed Giving Tuesday to be a success this year and you guys came through for us in a huge way. Also, for everyone reading this who is waiting until the end of the year to give, please know that Facebook has waived all fees for donations given through Facebook through the end of the year if you want to use a credit card or you can send a check or give through our website.
With that said, I wanted to take some time to talk about the month of December in America. Here are some observations I have:
- I am not sure how this has happened, but December has become the moth when we are both the most generous and the greediest here in America.
- The Town Center in Jacksonville (it is a huge outdoor mall for those who do not live here) is maybe the worst place in the world to go on a weekend in December.
- The older I get, the more I like Christmas music.
- The older I get, the less I like waiting in a line.
- Kohls (a department store) does little to no business for about 360 days every year, but if you go there on Black Friday you can expect to see a line that wraps around the entire store…for the whole day…just so people can make $10 in “Kohl’s Kash”…even though Kohl’s Kash is not a real thing.
- They should definitely make those Brach’s Peppermint nougats available year around and stop selling fruit cakes even at Christmas.
- There are a lot of people in America who spend more on an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” for a party than I did on the nicest sweater in my closet.
- It is really pretty difficult in our culture to know how to teach children about what Christmas really is (I never really thought about this until we had kids)
I have quite a few more observations, but I thought 8 was a good number for this blog. Anyway, the point is that the month of December is probably the most interesting month of the year. There is this tension that exists between gifts and greed, Christ and commercialism, whether our awe comes from magic or Messiah, and through it all it is very important that we remain intentional about what this month becomes. If we are not careful we can allow lights, gifts, magic, and even giving (December is basically the nonprofit world’s black Friday) to replace what is truly remarkable and awe-inspiring…Jesus Christ.
When I was younger, my parents decided to take me to Six Flags for the first time. I am not sure how old I was, and I don’t actually remember it, but I have been told this story on numerous occasions. On the way there, my parents asked me if I would rather spend the day with them at Six Flags or stop at Wal-Mart and buy a new He-Man action figure (it was not a doll, it was an action figure). Apparently, I was very quick to answer that I would prefer the He-Man toy at the expense of a trip to Six Flags. In this particular case and to keep me from getting upset, I got both the trip to Six Flags and the He-Man action figure, but hopefully you can see my point. So often in our lives we are quick to give up the greater thing if the other thing is easier, if it brings more immediate pleasure, or if it is what everyone else is doing.
This December we have 2 choices of where our attention will fall. Will it fall on spending countless hours online shopping, standing in lines in stores, and wrapping gifts to lay out for our friends and family that will give temporary happiness (and end up in the trash pile eventually)? Or will our attention fall on the only thing that truly deserves our attention…The FACT that Jesus Christ, GOD in the flesh came here? My intention is not to tell anyone how they should celebrate Christmas, it is to help us refocus on who should be celebrated, and spoiler alert it is not Santa Claus, our kids, or our spouse!