what festivus should teach us about Christmas

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

December 23, 2010

We all remember the classic Seinfeld episode when we learn about the Festivus tradition in George’s family. I still crack up at the extreme dysfunction of the Costanza family. Probably because we can easily relate to so many things that guys like George go through as we struggle to just live our lives.

Sitcom writers come up with stuff like this because it’s something that we can all connect with. Laughter shows identification.

And in all that humor, there’s a bit of truth about our culture and society that we should understand.

So what does a piece like this tell us about something real, like Christmas?

The ‘festivus tradition’ comes partly as a response to the extreme commercialism with the traditional holidays this time of year. I don’t know about you, but for me that begs the question…

What have we let Christmas become?

I’ve felt more and more convicted lately about over-commercializing Christmas, and trying to find ways for my family to focus on the real meaning for this celebration. And today, maybe I have more questions than answers.

How do we show the world the extravagant love that came to earth 2,000 years ago?

How do we get them to see that the most important thing this time of year isn’t finding the perfect present, but recognizing that we just got the Perfect Gift?

How do we live this out in our own celebrations of the Birth of Christ?

This was another wednesday trendsday post.


  1. Brock S. Henning

    Dan, the way I choose to celebrate Christmas with my family, especially with my two boys (and sometimes our daughter), is by hosting a Feats of Strength competition. Whoever gets thrown into the Christmas tree first loses. Ha! Kidding… 🙂 Seriously though, we like to buy presents for other kids who would otherwise get left out. Not patting myself on the back in any way, but tying into a recurring theme with some of your posts and your work in Haiti…smiling children. 🙂

    • @bibledude

      I gotta say that I kinda like the idea of the Feats of Strength competition! We might have to incorporate that into our family get together this year!

      I like what you are doing, and think that’s a great way to show the kids how to be giving. Great stuff dude! Thanks for sharing and making me laugh!

      • Brock S. Henning

        Though it’s the Airing of Grievances that seems to take the lead somehow, and we don’t even plan for it. There’s this one relative, you see… 😉

  2. A Simple Country Girl

    Oh my land. I have not watched Seinfield since college and we haven’t owned a tv for many years–now I recall why! Ha!

    Here’s a snip-it of what we do & don’t do:
    – not a single nod to Santa
    – we do Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree
    – we only buy 3 total (small) items (mostly edible) for one another
    – if we want something, we buy it for ourselves the week after Christmas
    – we “adopted” a girl through Amazima last year and will renew that
    – this year, we are planning to attend service Saturday and then visit an old-folk’s home with another family (it was their idea and we are tagging along)
    – our extended family got a meal delivered to their house and some homemade recycled tin can fridge magnets (reduce, reuse, recycle!)

    (BTW, thank you for inadvertently shining some light on a mystery that’s been plaguing my husband and me. Now we know who this man at our church reminds us of… If he drags in a pole some Sunday, I am gonna stick around and take some photos for ya.)

    Merry Christmas Dan, to you and yours.


    • @bibledude

      This is a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas! As I see more people doing it this way, I pray that this message of simplicity continues to spread and shout to the world what Christmas is really about.

      And if ‘Frank Costanza’ shows up in your church with an aluminum pole, I will MOST DEFINITELY want to see a picture of that!

      Thanks for stopping by SCG! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

  3. Katie @ Imperfect People

    I just want to tell you that i love that you have a category named “engaging in culture” so many christians have a holier than thou attitude that is too good for the world. Yet we are the body of Christ! We need to be arms of love and words of encouragment. Thank you for your blog and your engaging the culture!

    • @bibledude

      Engaging the culture should be the church’s primary business. Instead it seems to build it’s own culture (that most people have difficulty understanding). I think of guys like Paul as he went on his missionary journeys and engaged the cultures that he was in…

      Thanks Katie! I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts!


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what festivus should teach us about Christmas

by Dan King time to read: 1 min