“Here’s an interesting point of contention: Today is 3 November. This letter should reach you by 6 or 7 November. What do you think of the supersonic transition to Christmas that almost everyone is making? Do you subscribe to that mentality? Our band has started rehearsing Christmas music—we started in mid-October!…What’s your favorite holiday, and why? I’m still not sure what mine is because of the commercial aspect of so many of them.”
In writing to a friend this past Sunday, I could not help but touch on this…touchy subject. Christmas trees are ascending to the ceilings of many houses, decked with red, gold, or memorabilia from previous Christmases. The smell of cookies is drifting from ovens, and the radio is blasting: “Jing-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding!” Repeatedly. And yet, those faithful to one of the only holidays in the United States with a set date never exhaust of the rigmarole involved. They brave the crowded malls and candle shops to buy for their relatives what they just might think would surprise them. The materialistic view of America, the secular “Christmas” love songs, and the pagan Christmas tree are all intertwined to make some kind of conglomeration of a federal holiday which lets children out of school for a fortnight or so.
Now, in this explanation of Christmas, is there something that has not been acknowledged yet?
It is so easy sometimes to forget what the angels sang in the company of shepherds the night that Immanuel—more colloquially called Jesus—was born:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14 NIV)
The holiday even has yet another name of His in it: Christmas. If the holiday were concerned around gift-giving and -receiving, then maybe it would be called Giftmas. Or Hammas, for the traditional Christmas feast. But that simply is not the case.
I asked my coworkers what they think about when they think about Christmas. One in five mentioned Jesus. The other answers? Presents, Santa Claus, snow, cold, nostalgic winter mornings, peppermint bark, cinnamon, and lights. How easily we (of little faith) forget what the real meaning is! Even on Christmas records, the secular artists acknowledge the celebration of God the Son’s birth.
So, why not take a step back, grab our thick and holy text, and turn to the beginning of the gospel according to Matthew or Luke? Have a read. I shall not explain the Nativity to you; that would be too easy. Do a little digging. Remember who put the Christ in Christmas.
And please, for the love of your favorite holiday, enjoy Thanksgiving a little.