"What do you want for Christmas?"
These words have been spoken innumerable times by Santas in malls across America, or by smiling parents who are preparing their Christmas shopping lists. Young children are fairly easy to shop for, but as we get older, our requests become more complexand more expensive. Teenagers my age usually love to see designer jeans, laptops, or game systems waiting under the tree Christmas morning. But while it's nice to have items like this, do they really bring us joy?
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, no matter what age we are, we eagerly anticipate what presents we'll be receiving from our loved ones. Tearing off the wrapping paper to discover what gift is inside is always fun and is covered with an atmosphere of warmth and delighted laughter, but in the moments after all the presents have been opened, I think everyone will admit that they tend to get a "what now?" kind of feeling.
All those weeks of build-up for a few minutes of happiness suddenly seems silly. And even though I'm sure we're all grateful for the things we receive, even by the time we go to bed on Dec. 25, our gifts already feel like old news.
So what's the point of it all? Why do we start our Christmas celebrations earlier and earlier, with decorations popping up in early November? Why do people across America get so thrilled at the thought of a Black Friday sale? Why do we formulate lists in our heads of what presents we need to receive for it to be the kind of perfect Christmas we see in the movies?
It's because we're searching for fulfillment and security, something every human desires. In the media, richest people always look the happiest. We see dozens of commercials for department stores depicting images of children snuggling up to their parents by a fireplace, thanking them for their gifts and smiling angelically. We all long for that contentment, for something to finally fill that never-ending craving.
No iPod, no video games, no food can ever do that, but God designed us this way, in order to point us toward heaven. That yearning is supposed to show us that even if we celebrate 100 Christmases, we'll never be satiated. As the last of the wrapping paper is thrown out in the trash, we'll always feel let down.
The only thing that will put us to rest is Jesus, who came to earth to die for our sins, and this is the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. When we have someone whose love was wide and deep enough to leave heaven and suffer ultimate punishment on our behalf, why would we ever look to material, earthly things to appease us? It's like trying to use a band-aid to heal a fatal wound.
1 Timothy 6:6 says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." Instead of constantly chasing more and more possessions, if we stop to thank God for his love and realize that it's the only thing we need, we will gain so much more than mere belongings.
This December, when we're asked, "What would you like for Christmas?," I think we should all answer: "Contentment."
Elizabeth Burckhard, of Minot, is a senior at Our Redeemer's Christian School in Minot.