It’s less than a week until Christmas, and I have to ask. Where is your focus?
- All the gifts you still need to purchase, wrap, and give away?
- Perhaps the celebrations and extra family visits that overload your calendar?
- The hullabaloo over who says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?
- Or the baby, born in a manger?
God with us
It’s a little late this year to declutter your shopping and schedule (although I highly recommend you begin to plan now for next year!). But that doesn’t mean your Christmas season needs to be ruined.
In January 1978, Ronald Reagan wrote,
“All the traditions associated with Christmas were observed as usual in the past holiday season including the chorus of complaints that over-commercialization is robbing the day of its true meaning. I’ll have to confess that I can’t join that chorus. Somehow the ads offering helpful gift suggestions when we are all filled with the spirit of giving, the decorations on the streets and in the stores, the familiar carols add to the Christmas spirit for me and don’t really strike me as crass or insensitive money grubbing.”
The Symbolism of the Season
To me, everything about Christmas points back to Christ.
- Santa represents Saint Nicholas, a man who loved God and was known for his generosity.
- The evergreen tree shows optimism in the face of harsh conditions.
- Bells unashamedly rejoice, and they call out to those who need hope and light.
- Mistletoe’s parasitic like root system reminds me to draw my nutrients from God.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Stars, twinkling lights, brights colors — I love it all!
Some will argue that these symbols didn’t always represent these thoughts or ideals, that they came from pagan origins.
Maybe. In some cases, definitely. But so what? The worn teddy bear sitting in a place of honor on my bookshelf doesn’t convey meaning to anyone besides me. Truthfully, he’s pretty dirty and pitiful looking. Fortunately, none of that diminishes his value in my heart or my eyes.
Commercialized Christmas Isn’t Really the Issue
If we got really honest with each other, I think arguing over Santa and which stores allow their employees to say “Merry Christmas” hides the bigger issue.
The real issue lurking in the dark corners of our hearts is that we don’t value Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem as much as we say we do. As much as we want to. Maybe even as much as we know we should.
And, while we’re being honest, that’s both an easier and a harder fix than all the other problems around Christmastime.
- Easier because we each can actually do something to fix the problem.
- Harder because we actually have to do something to fix the problem.
It’s so much easier to demean those who let their children believe in fairy tales and magical elves. Why consider our hidden motives for the parties we attend or the gifts we buy when we can just throw money in the red bucket in front of our favorite store?
A Good Step Forward
Please understand that I don’t mean to belittle the side issues of an employee’s right to wish their customers Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah — or not. I don’t begrudge anyone who feels convicted about owning a Christmas tree or disparage those who tell their children the absolute truth about Santa and Rudolph.
But, I do want to stress that these are side issues.
The real issue is Jesus. For all of us — including us adults who overfill the calendar, overstress the checkbook (or credit card), and tend to forget that gifts and parties are not the primary focus either.
I encourage you to take a few moments every day this week to just celebrate God with us. The season is most beautiful when that is our dominant focus.