Tag Archives: christmas


A Christmas Message From Twenty First Summer.

By: Chris Warren.

Christmas means different things to different people. For some, like me, it’s a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. For little kids, it’s a joyful time of toys and presents. For people employed in critical professions, Christmas is another day on the job.

Sadly, for many, Christmas is a very painful reminder of their loneliness and isolation. A battle with addiction. Homelessness. Unemployment. Estrangement from family. Thoughts of suicide.

Christmas is the seriously ill patient, grateful for having made it another year and nervously concerned that it might be their last.

Christmas is the old man sitting alone and forgotten, contemplating the lifetime of bad decisions that brought him to this time and place.

Christmas is the unemployed veteran who gave so much of himself to protect the liberty of others and was rewarded with broken promises.

Christmas is the struggling single mom and her kids who are squeaking by for now but have no idea what life will be like in another month.

Christmas is the oppressed and persecuted all over the world who cannot find even one moment’s peace or the simplest of freedoms.

We are commanded by God to watch over and care for the less fortunate. Non-believers will question and even mock this concept with statements along the lines of “if your god is so powerful and almighty, why does he let people suffer?” God does not want programmed robots working for Him. He gave all of us a free will. Doing good works is our way of showing others our love for Him, but He rigged it so we could decide for ourselves if we were going to answer the call. When the needs of the hungry and the poor and the sick go unaddressed, it’s not because God “let” it happen. It’s because we mortal sinners let it happen.

Yet all is not dreary and bleak. Christ himself  taught that there is always hope for those who believe. Christmas exists for the sole purpose of letting everyone know that through Him is the path to a better place, even if that “better place” is not on this physical Earth.

For sure, Christmas is a celebration and there is nothing wrong with partaking in parties and food and gifts, unless the only reason you’re into the holiday is because of parties and food and gifts. When the egg nog wears off and the sales are over and the decorations are put away, what, or who, do you truly care about? Are you hearing the message, or was it just a party?

Christmas is December 25. And January 17. And March 5. And July. 10. And October 8. And so on. You get the idea. God is real. Are you?

Warm Blessings and Merry Christmas from Twenty First Summer.


Ending The Gift Quid Pro Quo.

By: Chris Warren

One major holiday is done and we’re less than a month out from Christmas, a time when gift giving, for most of us, is a true expression of love and gratitude. For many others, they give stuff, they get stuff. In the end it’s a zero-sum game. To the extent that I can, I’m going to end the gift giving circle of absurdity.

Years ago my parents put their foot down and insisted that they wanted no gifts for birthdays, Christmas, or Mothers’/Fathers’ Day while at the same time retaining their “right” to give stuff to us kids. I know it’s a double standard, but they are the parents so we respectfully deferred to their wishes. At first I thought they were just being difficult. My parents worked hard and retired well. Having reached a place in their lives where they are comfortable, there isn’t very much anyone can give them that would make a big difference. Now I understand the psychology behind their demand: Not accepting gifts is my parents’ statement of content. Giving them more will not make them more happy.

Oddly, they do not seem to mind and are genuinely pleased if I give them a modestly-priced random gift for no particular reason. If I’m walking through a store and in a moment of serendipity spot something I know either of them would like, I’ll get it for them. My dad loves Guinness beer but never buys it for himself. So every now and them I’ll bring him a twelve pack, and he accepts it without any fuss as long as the gift is not tied to any special occasion. I don’t get it, but whatever.

If I spend $100 on someone, and they spend $100 on me, then what’s the point? Where are we going with this? How about if we both just spend the same $100 on ourselves call it good? All of the people in my life who I care enough about to buy gifts for already do little favors and help me throughout the year. I’m very blessed and I know it. There is no need to give me something on a special day once a year.

Although there are none in my circle that I’m aware of, the worst offenders are those who will try to predict what someone will spend on them, then go out and find a similarly-priced gift to give in return. They see gift giving as a social obligation and not a true expression of the season.

In my experience, the people who have the least usually give the most. To understand this concept, it’s important to point out that money does not mean the same thing to everyone. An unemployed guy who spends $10 on a gift is not looking at that cash the same way a very rich man who spends the same amount would.

A few years back, my nephew gave me a jacket for Christmas. It was a very nice jacket that I really liked and it probably cost him about $40-$50. Fifty bucks or so is not a lavish amount of money to most of us, but to a young college age kid putting himself through school on a ten dollar an hour job, it’s a significant cash outlay. I was beyond flattered and could see the glow in his face when he gave it to me. I deeply thanked him and gave him a big hug, then urged him to return it and use the money for school. He was adamant that I keep it, so I complied. Every time I put that jacket on, I smile and think of him. My nephew’s selfless spirit of giving was his real gift to me.

I refuse to participate in any gift quid pro quo. I’m going to borrow a page from my parents’ book of wisdom and push back against receiving gifts but still give them as the mood moves me. I don’t have everything I want in this world, but I’m a happy guy and am satisfied with giving gifts with no expectation that I’m owed something in return. This time around, for me, the greatest gift is not wanting any.

We Can’t Know What Christmas Is Unless We Also Know What It Isn’t.

By: Chris Warren

Ahhh yes it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” (or whatever cliché pleases you). The complaints are also clichés, albeit true ones: Christmas is rightfully derided as having been turned into a celebration of materialism and faux congeniality. ‘Tis the season for pining about what Christmas really means. We can also learn a lot from what it doesn’t mean.

Christmas is not about being seasonally nice. If you can smile and wave to that crabby neighbor on December 25, why is it so hard to do any other day? Or every day? Does it feel funny going back to being a stand-offish jerk on December 26?  I have a coworker who is always doing small favors for everyone, even people who are not all that kind to him in return. He does not wait for a special day, or be helpful only to those who are helpful to him. He treats others with class, every person, every day. That is the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is not about being a part time philanthropist. People feel inclined to leave large tips or donate to charity at Christmas. That’s nice and should not be discouraged, but the wait staff at your favorite burger place needs to make money in July, too. And the burdens carried by social service groups still have to be funded in the off season. It does not help a poor man to buy him an expensive multi-course steak & seafood dinner once a year and let him starve the rest of the time. I know a guy with a very middle class income who gives to several charities each month. The donations are not large, but he always comes through with something. He does it so the poor man gets a modest but respectful meal every day. That is the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is not about Christ. Let’s get something out of the way: I don’t say that to be politically correct. It’s well established that Twenty First Summer does not concern itself with making sure no one’s precious sensibilities are offended. But the reality is that for many, perhaps most, Christmas is not a religious holiday even as they celebrate it anyway. Christians should seize this opportunity to share their faith because it may be the only time of the year when nonbelievers are open to hearing God’s Word. It’s important for Christians to demonstrate their faith all the time, but Christmas is prime “hunting season.”

An acquaintance of mine is very involved in his church and he invites everyone he knows to their Christmas pageant. It’s part Broadway musical, part worship service. The place is always packed, and many of those present would never consider going to church under any other circumstances, much less a very conservative Baptist church. No one really knows how many lives are changed for the better as a result of attending this one event, but the church got it right: You first have to get their attention if there is any hope at all of winning their hearts. By the way, this particular church reaches out to to the community all year long with assistance and events specifically aimed at non-members. That is the true meaning of Christmas.

Even though a lot of goodwill does come out of Christmas, the holiday has become too much about one day. The higher calling of being concerned for others during the rest of the year is usually overlooked. Or worse, everyone thinks they can be kind to their fellow man in December and they have done their duty until next year. You can tell everything about a person’s understanding of the meaning of the season by what they do (or don’t do) in February and July and October. Those who respond to that call long after the sales are over and the decorations are put away don’t merely know the true meaning of Christmas, they are the true meaning of Christmas in the spirit Christ Himself expects all of us to be.

Twenty First Summer wishes everyone a merry and blessed Christmas.

Peace be with you!