Posted in Christmas, My Life, Recommendations

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

Today is the last day of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) National Collection Week. For those who don’t know, OCC collects shoeboxes of goodies for needy children worldwide. Since 1993, 124 million boxes have been delivered. When I was a child, my family participated and I loved it. I enjoyed shopping for another child — it was like playing Santa. However, it has been over 10 years since we last filled a shoebox. I decided quite belatedly that I wanted to give one again this year. Belatedly meaning I did all my shopping three days before the deadline. Being the infamous box saver that I am and thanks to the fact that my dad just bought some shoes, I had three boxes to fill. I chose to do a 10-14 boy and a 10-14 girl because I read online that there often is not enough shoeboxes for the older kids. I also did a 5-9 girl. Before my shopping trip I scoured for gift ideas from bloggers who fill boxes regularly. I found the lists and the comments to be incredibly helpful so I’m posting my own.

Here’s what I put in my boxes:

10-14 Boy Continue reading “Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas”

Posted in Christmas

The Sad TV Christmas

I don’t normally watch Happy Days, an old TV show starring Ron Howard, but I did recently because it was a Christmas episode.

The plot goes like this: Mr. Cunningham wants to have a traditional family-only Christmas. He wants to decorate the tree, pop popcorn, and read The Night Before Christmas. Of course things don’t go as he planned; Fonzie doesn’t have anywhere to go for Christmas (even though he pretends to visit family) and the Cunninghams invite him to stay with them.

So why am I writing a blog post about this episode that aired before I was born? Because it is a Hollywood Christmas.

The big tradition that Mr. Cunningham was looking forward to was reading The Night Before Christmas. My dad reads the story of Christ’s birth.

That’s the difference between a secular Christmas and a Christian Christmas (which is the only Christmas that counts). A secular Christmas doesn’t have much meaning. Of course it’s fun, I mean, there are presents involved. And you get off of school/work. And eat sweets without feeling guilty. And decorate your house. And visit family. But you can do all that without Christmas. Activity is not what make Christmas special.

December 25 is the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus. His birth is what gives meaning to the day. God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus, who was completely God and completely human, to earth as a little baby. Jesus experienced all the temptations we do and yet He did not sin–not once. And then He was executed and God poured His wrath against us upon Jesus. But He didn’t stay dead. A dead god has no power. After three days, Jesus came back to life–not as a ghost–in His own body. He proved that He is more powerful than death. Through Jesus we can have forgiveness and everlasting life.

That is the meaning of Christmas. That is why the TV show I watched was so sad; they missed the real Christmas.

Posted in Christmas, My Life, Recommendations

Happy Halloween?

Recently, a friend’s innocent Facebook post about fall was hijacked by two people discussing whether Halloween is good or bad for Christians to celebrate. At issue was its roots in pagan Celtic culture and transformation by the Roman Catholic Church. Honestly, I’ve never researched the origins of Halloween, although I’ve heard bits and pieces.

When I look at something like Halloween or Christmas trees (which are also reported to be rooted in pagan culture), the history is good to know, but it’s not solely what I make my final decision on. I also look at how the they are used today.

Christmas trees today have nothing to do with pagan celebrations. (They don’t have anything to do with Christ’s birth either.) Decorating Christmas trees is just a fun family activity that has become a part of our society’s Christmas celebration. And the trees are a convenient location for presents.  Therefore, I do not have qualms about putting up a Christmas tree in my living room every year. (If you do, that’s ok–it is possible to celebrate Christ’s birth without one.)

However, it is a different story with Halloween. A day to dress-up and receive candy sounds like every little girl’s dream. But that is not all that Halloween is. What is the first thing you think of when Halloween is mentioned? Witches? Ghosts? Monsters? Halloween is an evil holiday. I believe the Bible is conclusive on the subject.

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 18:22)

God hates witchcraft so much that he commanded all witches to be put to death. So should Christians be dressing up like witches, decorating with witches, or celebrating a day associated with witches? I don’t think so.

And then there’s Philippians 4:8 “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, (ghosts are out) whatsoever things are honest, (tricks are out) whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,(witches and vampires are out) whatsoever things are lovely, (monsters are out) whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, (Halloween is out) and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

My conclusion, based on Scripture, is that we Christians should not celebrate Halloween.