Fighting the Christmas Pressure to Impress


There is something about a Christmas stocking I love. It’s this idea of giving in secret. A simple gift from the heart. One that doesn’t seek to sit on center stage, doesn’t demand attention, desires not to impress. One content to wait patiently and humbly in hiding for one reason and one reason only. To bless.

As I sit here looking at our stockings hung from the mantle, they all look the same on the outside. Christmas morning each stocking will be filled with items uniquely given for the one to receive. On the outside they will all look the same. But there is this little humble secret inside. These gifts given from the heart. Simply.

When a gift from the heart is wrapped in simplicity, room is made for splendor. No distractions compete for attention or overshadow the true gift.

Christmas simplicity makes room for the splendor of a King.

Luke 2:7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough-because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Jesus, the ultimate gift ever given, was wrapped in simplicity. Magnificence cloaked in simplicity. The gift came humbly.

Jesus, Savior of the world. Prince of Peace. King of Kings. God became a baby. This gift sought not attention from the world or desired to impress the world. He sought only to give of Himself. He came quietly and humbly.

Simplicity makes way for the splendor of a King.

It’s not hard to drift into the American way of bigger is better, more is preferred. Christmas is a simple message. Christ was born to die for our sins so we could have eternal life through Him. He was born to die. A simple message that needs nothing added to it to make it better.

Many of us struggle to keep Christmas gifts simple. Our culture creates a pressure to add more. Outdo one another. Images shared at lightning speed fill social media that whisper to us, we should add more, we should do more, we aren’t enough, give more, do more, decorate more. Be creative, be unique, be different. Stand out.

We feel this unspoken pressure to consult Pinterest to create the most creative teacher or friend gifts ever given or to create memories for our children in the most unique of ways. Simplicity and humility flee.

This is why I love the stocking. It’s gifts given in humble simplicity, hidden, not shouting for attention. A gift in a stocking isn’t crying out, “Look at me. Did I win best gift award?” It’s not asking, “Do I earn your approval?” It seeks only to give and desires nothing in return. No favor.

When we fall to the pressure of our culture in our gift giving, it becomes about us.  The attention is taken from the gift recipient and placed back on us. We might earn favor or impress, but we lost our humility. Christmas is the greatest picture of humility the world has ever seen.

If we want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, it starts with modeling humility.

Jesus knew He was the ultimate gift.  Heaven came to earth. What greater gift is there? Pinterest has got nothing on that.  He came to be the gift, and He wrapped Himself in cloths, lying in a manger, announced to simple shepherds, delivered by a simple, humble girl. All humbly simple.

When we simplify, we can magnify Christ.

In a share all, show all world, we feel the pressure to perform, which holds hands with the pressure to impress.

The spirit of christmas is humility. It’s seeking the lesser position. A gift given in humility is not a gift that seeks to impress. It’s a gift straight from the heart that has lowered itself.  It’s one that attempts to be the stocking gift, tucked away quietly waiting to bless privately.

The attention we receive from our gifts can change the intention of our hearts with time.

What if each gift we give this season seeks to be the stocking gift? The one wrapped in simplicity.

When we aren’t influenced by the idea that we will receive credit, we are able to focus on loving and blessing the receiver of the gift rather than seeking to impress the receiver.

I’m finding freedom this Christmas in choosing to simplify my gifts.

When I let go of the pressure to receive praise or earn recognition, it’s amazing how my heart changes. When I take the focus off of myself and what I receive back from the gifts I give, suddenly my heart is turned to the ones I want to bless. And I can love them in the most simple of ways.

I’m not weighed down by putting together friend or teacher gifts that will receive praise. Instead I’m free to humbly express my heart towards the one to receive the gift. It stops being about me, and the blessing has room to bless.

If you feel weighed down by the pressure to impress, choose to follow the example of Christ. Give a gift packaged in humility that seeks only to bless and desires nothing in return. No favor. No attention.

Be the stocking gift that tucks away quietly awaiting its moment of private blessing.

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