Growing up Christmas was so special. You learn about the birth of Christ in the nativity play. You witness the compassion and giving through family gatherings on Christmas day. Santa is a larger than life figure in a child’s development. The magic he represents and the belief that anything is possible can impact a child to dream big dreams. For me Christmas was all those things, but now I am just like all other adults I have stopped believing in Christmas.
My father laid a foundation of Christian beliefs before the belief of Santa and his elves. Each year before opening presents he would read the nativity story from Luke 2. He would always remind us that Christmas was more about our Lord giving his Son to us than it was about gifts and treats. I remember enjoying being in the Christmas play and sign carols at church. I loved Christmas.
One year in the late 80s my father and I heard a story about a cross being removed from hill side public land during the Christmas season. To answer this action, my dad build a ninety foot cross with PVC pipe and strands of Christmas lights. Drivers could see the cross from US 51 and sometime Interstate 55. I remember playing outside in the glow of that cross. It was comforting and somewhat protective. No one could change the culture on our hill in Carroll County.
As a thirty-three year old kid I don’t enjoy Christmas as much. I have seen the world and all its marketing executives hijack the meaning of Christmas. I work in a retail job where I see people flood into our store and the mall just to find stuff for people who do not need stuff. Most of the time what these people really need is love, hope, peace, or grace. So often in our modern, on the go, culture we forget the simple things. I have grown to hate Christmas as an adult. I know that is some strong words. However, we creep ever closer to forgetting what love really means.
For example, advertisements for jewelry stories trying to convince consumers that diamonds are the sign and seal of “True Love!” That if anyone wants to tell their significant other how much he or she really means to them they should buy a diamond and give it to them in a driving thunderstorm or at 2 AM beside the Christmas tree. What is love any how? Isn’t it patient, kind, protective, trusting, and true? And the only one who I think can pull off that kind of love is the exact person Christmas is supposes to honor and glorify, not Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, Saint Nick or any bearded old man in a red suit.
If you have been reading my blog since the start, this may all sound a little familiar. In my second blog entry, Traditions and Symbols, I talked about creating a new Christmas tradition of using a “feed trough” rather than a Christmas tree in my home. Pottery Barn didn’t catch the trend, but my father made me a darn nice manger. This year my gifts are wrapped in brown paper packages and tied up with string laying gently in a manger, just like baby Jesus thousands of years ago. Having my manger has melted just little of my Christmas hostility.
So I encourage everyone to finds something about Christmas they love. Latch on to some old traditions, break some rules, be nice to everyone, and create your own tradition. Our lives are not going to be as perfect as the Zales commercial might lead us to think they should be. However, if we put our faith in Christ and follow his example for life our next life will be perfect!