Two Christmas Thoughts

The kids and all the grands came over for our annual Christmas breakfast together, and we had ourselves a time. I have to say that the sheer volume of gifts was significant. There are sixteen stockings to be stuffed, and then the regular presents for the grands, and then the adults give one another presents. As I looked out over the pandemonium, I thought of the annual clucking of tongues over consumerism and so forth, wherein we are all exhorted — for the betterment of our souls — to limit ourselves to one or two gifts, max, and preferably they will be kind of gifts that did not attract the attention of too much mammon, the kind you can get at the dollar store. In short, the exhortation — for the betterment of our souls — exhorts us to be as unlike God as we can be. God is lavish, and He did not try to teach us selflessness by undergiving. Throughout my entire life, not to mention all the ages before I was born, God has always way overdone it. And the imitation of Christ means, among other things, imitating that.

Speaking of overdoing it, our kids conspired together this year to give each set of grandkids a puppy — all German shorthair pointers — and if you are tracking with me, this means three puppies. Nancy and I had the privilege of delivering the puppies to their new homes this morning. The thought among our kids was that the only thing that would be able to drive the kids into a higher state of whipped-up-ness than a puppy would be the general discovery, when they arrived at our house for breakfast, that the two other cousin families had each gotten a puppy too. The same kind of puppy. And so they did, and the event came off with a satisfactory amount of squealing and yelling. The puppies are named, if you are interested, Dixie Mist, Dottie, and Derby. Going into 2014, life at our house just moved into 3-D.

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23 comments on “Two Christmas Thoughts

  1. Love it. Thanks for the post, Doug!

  2. Nothing wrong with being 3-D.

  3. “3-D”… 3 dogs? Or did you get one of those 3-D TVs too?  :-)

  4. My brother gave his kids a puppy. A big yellow breed

  5. What colour? Are they all the same? Do we get to see a photo?
    Domestic animals are a wonderful kindness from the Father and a little down payment and promise of things to come. So good.

  6. Mostly beautiful post, but perpetuates the weird idea that the manner in which God is lavish is via money, or that a primary way to lavishly love wealthy people is by giving them even more material things. I was very lavish in loving my family this Christmas, and did spend a good bit of time and money and energy in the process, but the things my family received contained quite a bit of my expression of love and very little that the world values as financially valuable.

    This conversation has come up before, and I still haven’t seen much of an answer to it – why is it assumed in American circles that love and money are so interconnected?

  7. Jonathan, perhaps this would help.  Lavishly loving others means much more than using money to show that love, but it is not less, which you demonstrate in your comment.  I would suggest that you have money it had better be interconnected with love.

  8. Heh….make that connected with love for others, not the love of money.

  9. “As Augustine first systematically explained, all persons are motivated by love, which is essentially a scale of preference for persons, and we human persons express love with gifts distributing our scarce goods in proportion to our love for each person relative to ourselves.”  -  From a great book, Redeeming Economics, John D. Mueller.

  10. From the same litter?

  11. Rob, two from the  same litter, and one — we assume — a distant cousin.

  12. I’m dying to know who has Dixie Mist.

  13. That’s the puppy that belongs to Nate’s family. Dotty belongs to the Merkles. Derby belongs to the Janks.

  14. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matt. 11:17This verse seems to give me such a wonderful understanding of my heavenly Father.
    I’m assuming the puppy names were given by the children (girls?) How fun to be the grandparents delivering the gifts for which they need not be responsible.  Next year grandma and grandpa can give a drumset for each household…lol.

  15. Actually, one of the households already has a drum set, although we didn’t do it. Rory and Seamus are both taking drumming lessons. And Rory got a Celtic drum for Christmas yesterday. But we aren’t responsible.

    Actually, maybe we are partly responsible. This last year a group of Logos Dads put on a classic rock concert to raise money for the Logos music program. Seamus came to it, listened to Tom Miller on the drums, and said, “I want to do that.”


  16. Regardless of who “owns” them, who is actually going to take care of the dogs?
    Answer (as everyone already knows): the mothers.
    Hope they thought it through beforehand.

  17. Post a comment

  18. Daniel, I see nothing in your comment that I disagree with. But I don’t think that it justifies the mocking of anti-consumerism and the connection of God’s lavishness with the material things that our culture focuses Christmas around. Jesus repeatedly exhorted his listeners not to store up material things for themselves (Matthew 6:19-21, 13:22, 19:23-30; Luke 1:53, 6:24, 12:15-21, 14:33, 16:19-31; also Acts 4:32-37, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, James 1:10-11, 5:1-6)…how are we not already far more guilty of holding onto an over-abundance of possessions than the people of that age were? And if I believe that storing up material things for myself can distract my heart from God, then why would I encourage those who are among the world’s largest consumers to participate in consumerism to an even greater degree? I do believe that a helpful antidote to stored-up material possessions is giving, but many of the statements of Jesus and his disciples put the reception of that generous giving of material things in a substantially different direction (Mark 10:21, Luke 3:11, 12:33, 14:12-14, 19:8-9, Acts 2:45, 1 Corinthians 8:13-15, James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17).

  19. To be clear, I am not saying that we should not give to our friends and family members lavishly. We should, and I do! I am simply saying that with the great deal of material wealth already present in most of our circles and the great focus on consumerism and materialism within the culture we are a part of, lavish consumer goods may not be the kind of lavish gifts that bring the greatest blessing to our loved ones.

  20. I gave my children a wonderful gift: each got a signed ( by me ) copy of Death by Living. Just the most wonderful book I’ve read in years!

  21. Jonathan, no ill will to you at all, but I think you’re being pretty uptight about this. Leave the Wilsons be to celebrate Christmas in good conscience before God, and hopefully you have been able to celebrate Christmas with your family in that same peace. Grace and peace to you and yours.

  22. Whitney, I said that Pastor Doug’s post was mostly beautiful and certainly have no intention to bother the Wilsons. But Pastor Wilson used the title and entire first paragraph to make a specific teaching point (quite an aggressive one, in fact), and I see no problem with replying to his argument with my own. Just as you had no problem trying to correct me. :)

  23. Great post.  This idea of overdoing it having its roots in the nature of God was one of the main things that hit me as I read “Death By Living.”  In fact it ended up being the most powerful idea for me in that book, and it was more like a side note if I remember correctly.