Onions, Oxytocin and the Obvious Way God Loves Us At Christmas

What happens when little kids open up terrible presents from their dad?

Jesus said that if earthly parents know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will God the Father give good things to those who ask him (Matthew 7:11). OK, but here's a dad who, in his own words, gave a really bad gift and his kids act like they've won the lottery. What's going on there?

It's a reminder that when we give or receive what we perceive to be acts of love, then our brain releases oxytocin, a chemical that bonds people together. It's that moment of excitement when you begin to open a gift or wait for someone you care about to open your gift. This is a big reason why Christmas is something we keep on doing as we get older and realize our families are crazy. 

So as we work to keep Jesus from getting buried under the pile of wrapping paper and gift bags, maybe we don't have to divorce religion from revelry. If attending a candlelight service on Christmas Eve adds meaning to the holiday, by all means enjoy that time. But don't think that everything else is a diversion from the divine. Lights and laughter and gifts and food provide holistic ways of remembering (with chemical reinforcements) that God is good and gives good gifts to his children so they might desire the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit who convinces us that God loves us (Luke 11:13)

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