I'm grateful that I could buy a few things for my kids, surprise them and bring them excitement and joy. Not sure it's the best way to celebrate Christ's birth, but I love those little people.

Here we are at a live radio production of A Christmas Carol at the Vienna Coffee House in Maryville on the 16th.

Here's a few of them waiting to come into the room.

We did it slightly more orderly this year. Each person got a present and then they all unwrapped.

JMB inspects CEB's cool ride.

JDB loves his chickens!

Testing out a Highland Brewery variety pack. My favorite had to be the Black Mocha Stout.

A friend said "Christmas is about family, doing acts of kindness for others and being our best selves. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Christ's birth. What do you think he would rather we do?"

If that's all it was, then I would have no reservation with it. Those are things we each should do every day.

However training generations of children to associate Christ's birth with the powerful thrill of getting gifts, contemplating what gifts they want and hope for and reinforcing this behavior with candy, cookies, cakes, brilliant colorful lights, and sparkling ornaments, the smell of pine etc. Afterwards the meaning of Christmas is reinforced by using/playing with the gifts received.

There are the pagan symbols of the tree and Santa Claus which I don't want to go into.

Children don't think of Christ's birth when they think of Christmas except as an afterthought. We shoehorn Luke 2 where we can so we feel there is some legitimacy about this. On the one hand we're singing songs of Santa, sleigh bells, figgy pudding and then we have to stop and sing Silent Night so we can actually contemplate the Savior. LHB said we try to fit Christ into our lives and worship Him the way we want, and not the way He has asked us.

I really think it's a dichotomy that we force together. We've proven that we are pretty good at holding two opposing thoughts simultaneously.

One night of family scripture reading where the Holy Ghost is present may be a more effective way to celebrate. Taking the sacrament might be better. One day of serving the poor without any thought of this being associated with receiving presents might. Taking the money and feeding LDS children that are starving to death might.

On top of this, all of the gifts we give are made as affordable as they are by the slave labor economy of China and all the horrors that go along with that.

I think there must be better ways.

We are all fallen, cast out of God's presence. We substitute the absence of God's direct involvement in our life with elaborate and emotionally stimulating rituals that don't impart greater understanding in God's plan for us. I was glad for the opportunity to suprise and delight my kids, but remembering Christ came the next night as we read D&C 76:1.