One of the great qualities of Christmas is the time it affords family to be together. If you happen to have a family that enjoys being together, it really is a wonderful time of year. Christmas is also about the Christ. It is a comment on our culture that we even have to mention that He is the focus of the season. I remember that my childhood family seemed to focus on the gift giving celebration part of Christmas, not the Christ giving. But then maybe that was just me. I liked the gift giving part and really struggled with the Christmas Eve service candle wax dripping necktie tight pants itchy feet sweating staying in my seat listening to boring service part.
It was really difficult for me to believe anything other than we were just putting in time before the good stuff; me getting my stuff. Christmas was not about Him, it was about Me! Oh what a joy to get what you wanted! And most of my life has been about getting what I want until what I want became incredibly destructive to myself and others. That is when I woke up or more accurately desperately began hoping that there was something else beside satisfying insatiable appetites and desires.
Did my problem begin because Christmas is too secular, too focused on buying and getting and not focused on Jesus? Well, I do not know about you, but my problem with appetite and desire run amuck is a lot more complicated than reminding everyone that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season"! I know there are people who are very disciplined and able to manage their appetites and personal desires in order to achieve larger goals. It does not follow that they are any more satiated, that their desires and hungers have been completely satisfied. It just might mean that their temperament is more suited to delaying gratification.
There is a long held notion in psychology that we all have different temperaments that come with the package, so to speak. Our particular temperament has to do with a prevailing mood, emotional disposition and emotional intensity. While there are different classifications, most agree that there are four basic types. The original typology of temperament was developed by Galen around 200 B.C. I am most likely a choleric, quick to react and hot tempered. My wife, Carolyn is more sanguine, warm and pleasant. A phlegmatic tends toward being slow moving and apathetic and the melancholic struggles with sadness and depression. I think most of us can figure out our basic temperament and what our particular prevailing emotional state is. If you can't figure it out, ask someone close to you. They will definitely know!
So what does this have to do with Christmas! Well, God sent His only Son that we might have eternal life and He did that because He loves us. God gave us his Son as our gift. That is what we celebrate on His birthday; His gift to us. Our desires and appetites drive us to focus on what we can get, even if we do it in a disciplined or friendly manner. How many of us focus on what we can give? My wife might be more warm and fuzzy and I am definitely pricklier but does that mean she is more likely to give of herself? Maybe she is just more pleasantly selfish.
I still have trouble sitting in church on Christmas Eve. My hot, quick tempered nature will probably not disappear until Jesus returns and I get my new body. My appetites and desires are still there, maybe not as forceful or persistent, but they are still there. One thing that is different is that I know I need to give, like God gave me His Son. It is the only thing that really helps satisfy. By the way, my wife is pleasant, and very giving.
This Christmas give yourself as a gift to someone else.