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Personal Finance: The REAL Purpose of Christmas

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All this hype about the greatest deals happening during Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been exciting. Naturally.  Who doesn’t like a good deal?  I remember as a kid, my mom would take me out shopping to get presents for friends and family.  She’d ask, “Do you like that for Mark? Or Sharon?  Or Nikki?  Or Chuck?”  I’d say, “Ya Ma!  But can I get one too?”  I was a selfish little kid, eh?

As an adult, I’d go out shopping for the people on my list just to find the right suit/tie, Under Armor gear or CDs/DVDs for who? ME!

“How did Christmas shopping go?”, my friends would ask when I came back from gallivanting from store to store.  “I don’t know about shopping, but I did go on a little ‘spree’ maself! Heh! I got some fly Puma gear and Sean Jean jeans for this weekend’s festivities”, I’d say.  I would later realize how self-centered I sounded.

It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I had to teach and model the traditions of Christmas.  I didn’t realize that I lacked a true purpose to share with them, in this time of the year.  They started acting like I did as a kid, as if Christmas was all about receiving gifts.  You know, “me, me, me”?  Hmm…it sure is different when you are on the other side of the parent/child relationship doing your best to raise your kids, “right”.

Last year, I was given a book during the holiday season by Pastor Kent and Alli Munsey of City Church Chicago.  This

With Pastor Kent Munsey of City Church Chicago

With Pastor Kent Munsey of City Church Chicago

book titled, “The Purpose of Christmas” authored by Pastor Rick Warren who prayed for our nation during Obama’s inauguration speech, that I was reminded and re-engaged to the true reason for the season…of Christmas.

Getting back to the basics, this season of Christmas is about thankfulness, sacrifice, giving, fellowship and appreciation.  It is not about how much you can get, hoard, stock away or compare.

As Chicagoans, we live in a country where our lifestyles and tastes are the envy of royalty in many different countries.  More than three billion people, almost half the world, live on $2.50 a day and we spend more on that with a cup of coffee and a fat-free, organic donut.  Perhaps a little “humble-pie” should be given instead of the traditional fruit cake this year?

Regardless of what you have, or what you think you don’t have, a good suggestion would be to have contentment.  Without contentment, you always want what you more of what you don’t have and unfortunately American business will try to get you way to fuel that hunger with sales, credit cards and special deals.  You cannot buy and experience happiness from others, unless it starts with you first.

Before you begin to consider your gift list or spend money in this process, think about other ways you can show your loved ones how you care about them, without putting yourself in a financial pinch.  Whoever said that they more you love someone, the more you have to spend on them?

Many people would agree with me, that is is the thoughtfulness of a gift than the act OF having to buy and give a gift.

Need some ideas?  Here’s one.  With all the technology available to us and pics/vids in digital format, how about creating a video collage?  Back that up with music that is memorable between the two of you can create a gift that will last forever and not found in a garage sale years later.

Plus, we’ll be discussing smart holiday spending on our financial talk radio show – Money Smart Radio.

Regardless of our religious backgrounds, I encourage us all to pause and rethink our current definition of Christmas.  It may be perhaps a definition or meaning you were raised up in.  It may be something that you feel you need to participate in because your wife, girlfriend or co-workers are setting up a grab bag.

You will ultimately experience this time of year worldwide, increased traffic jams, heightened foot traffic along sidewalks and shopping malls. If you stop to think about it, it is all because of Christmas, a single day from our calender, created by the simple birth of a carpenter’s baby boy over two thousand years ago.

So whatever your existing meaning, understanding or mindset for Christmas is, there is no accident why you are continuing to read this.  Everything about you has been designed and planned for.  It just may be that your life up to this point, with all the tears of joy and pain, has prepared you to receive a new meaning for Christmas.

Before you bust out your wallet and credit cards, know that this year, you just might receive and enjoy the best Christmas gift you will ever be given again.  For starters, you may choose to embrace the “present” time you are in.  No matter what economic or financial situation you may find yourself in the midst of, you may begin to also see the purpose of your life…and that is God’s gift to you.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone!

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