Somehow Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and the mad dash for Christmas gifts has already begun. In the chaos that tends to come of the next 24 days, I wanted to share an excerpt from my newest book (coming soon), What the Bible Says: Oils and Spices Revealed to give you something to consider this Christmas season.
The gift of gold was a gift of providence for the family of Jesus, but could also have been significant of the Magi paying tribute to Jesus Christ as their King.
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him. Matthew 2:2
The gift of frankincense was a gift of experience. Known in the Bible to be a symbol of the divinity of God (Song of Solomon 1:3, Malachi 1:11), when Frankincense is burned the aroma is both fragrant and pleasing. Having the wisdom and discernment to understand the foretold prophesies, this gift could have symbolized the Magi’s recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:5-6
The gift of myrrh would have been a highly unusual gift to give to a child, as it was primarily used in the Bible for embalming the dead. However, this gift could have symbolized the Magi’s recognition that Jesus would fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah and ultimately die to provide salvation to those who would call upon His name.
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:2-5
Our Three Gifts
Quite a few years ago my husband and I started a Christmas tradition in our family. Instead of unleashing a torrent of toys on our children, we choose three gifts to give to our kids (in addition to their stockings) on Christmas morning. Following the example set forth by the Magi, we give our children a gift of value (gold), a gift of experience (frankincense) and a gift of practicality (myrrh). As parents, we desire to not only set a tone of gratitude in our children, but to continually point our kids back to God, who gave us the most incredible gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The gift of value might be a toy or item the kids really want or have been asking for. The monetary value doesn’t need to be high, but we look more at the item’s value through the eyes of our child. Last year, this meant Lego® sets for our son whose eyes would go wide any time he saw those tiny middle-of-the-night torture devices. For our daughter, this valuable gift was a children’s educational tablet where she could play games, draw, read, and create her own videos.
The gift of experience is something we can do together as a family. Sometimes this is a gift we use all year long; other times this is a one-time event. Over the last few years, we have chosen experiences such as a family trip, local Zoo or Science Center annual passes, or creating a gift that encompasses all the ideas our kids come up with of, “Mom, can we go…”
This year, we are wrapping up gift cards to create twelve family nights, one to be used each month of 2015. We have gift cards to be silly and goofy, as well as gift cards to look out for the needs of others. For instance, we have a gift card to buy items that can be used to create an indoor “snowball” fight; another gift card to purchase food items and supplies for a local food pantry. Our purpose with the gift of experience is to create life-long memories with our children by spending quality time together and sharing God’s love.
The gift of practicality may seem boring to most, and perhaps may need to become more exciting as our children get older. But for now, we have chosen to give something our children are in need of. This may be a winter jacket, pajamas or a bathrobe, a new outfit, or new comforter/sheet set for their beds.
Celebrating Christmas this way enables our family to ENJOY the Christmas season instead of dreading the weeks of self-induced stress. Our gifts are simple, but well thought out and meaningful! Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. This is a day of celebration and joy that we don’t want to rush through or miss because we are consumed by sales, crowds, and the commercialism of Christmas. Instead, we have more time to build gingerbread houses, and decorate cookies, and watch over-the-top sappy Hallmark movies, and spend time together every night Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. The pressure is off and our days leading to Christmas are relaxed which allows us to enjoy and soak up the season for what it truly means, instead of what it has become.
I’d love to hear from you, what Christmas traditions does your family have?