Presvytera Maria Antokas is a former banker who now teaches Economics and Finance. She and her husband, Fr. Dimitrios Antokas, are currently serving St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, Maryland. Presvytera Maria is also co-founder of CapitalWise, LLC, which is a financial coaching service for adults who need help organizing and understanding their personal finances. The company just published their first workbook entitled, Don't Call It a Budget - Personal Money Planning in the Age of Stuff Overload, which may be purchased at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
When we were kids, Christmas morning was all about the excitement of waking up super early, running down the stairs, and gasping at all the presents that Santa would manage to get through a window (we didn’t have a fireplace) during the night without being heard. We would then run back upstairs, tug at my parents and almost drag them out of bed so they could watch us open our gifts.
The entire year led up to that moment with the countdown starting December first. Santa became a really big deal in December. We would be constantly asked what we wanted from Santa. We had to be “good for Santa” because he would be calling on Christmas Eve for a last minute check-in. And when the phone would ring (spoiler alert—years later we learned that my Uncle Steve used to make those “ho,ho,ho”calls), we had to truthfully answer whether we behaved enough all year to deserve the latest Barbie dolls and new games that were on our Christmas list. Talk about stress!
The self-righteous are wondering right now, didn’t we go to Church? Where was Christ in our Christmas growing up?
We were and are still a very Christ-centered family who are strong in our faith, so I can’t say that we were scarred for life because Santa was our focus for a few days. Thinking back, it was more a time of sacrifice. As kids, we had to wait all year to get what we wanted. My parents had to save all year to fulfill our Christmas wishes. And this is important to me now as a personal finance instructor and an Orthodox Christian.
The Value of Smart Spending
Although the “material” Christmas came once a year in our house, every day was a gift from my mother and father. For 364 days, they worked for us and sacrificed for us. On the 365th, their satisfaction was watching our happiness on Christmas morning. That was their goal.
To reach their goal, they had to put a dollar amount on it. How much are we willing to sacrifice for Christmas? In economic terms this is called an “Opportunity Cost.”
In simple terms, an opportunity cost is something good you’re willing to give up in order to do or get something else.
Jesus Christ’s message was all about sacrifice. What do we give up or sacrifice in order to reach our goals? Do our children understand the message of sacrifice these days? Or, as parents do we give in to their desires all year. We need to teach our children about sacrifice on many levels, including financial, so they understand concepts like budgeting, saving, and long-term investing as they grow older. They also need to understand the sacrifice their parents are making as they struggle to save for their college educations while trying to prepare for their own retirement.
Christ is in our Christmas because Christ taught us the importance of sacrifice. We must live it not only for our sakes, but for our children’s. The era of “instant gratification” needs to be replaced by working towards long-term goals. Life is expensive, and we should prepare for that. The lesson here is to say “no” often to ourselves and our family.
Are there exceptions? Of course! But make it special like a Christmas morning. And be good! After all these years, I continue to get butterflies when the phone rings on Christmas Eve. Who knows? Santa could still be watching!
ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK
Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America . It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week and we want to reach millions more! Signup to receive our newsletter email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy! You can be inspired daily by the OCN programming from where ever you are by plugging into our Listen, Read, Watch , Worship. To learn more about emerging Orthodox leaders in our Community check out OCN 30 Under 30 Initiative. It is an opportunity to show support for and invest in this next generation of trailblazers.
Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, volunteers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your sustaining gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure the continued growth of this encouraging Orthodox Community by providing faith-building, free, high-quality programming. Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.
ORTHODOX MOBILE APPS ARE HERE!
Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram