… And some of you are critiquing my word usage right now. "Who says 'step off' anymore? Couldn't you say 'Go away' or 'Be nice?'"
That's my point. I said it because I chose to say it. It might not be a big deal with these words, but people are making a big deal about other words right now.
Christmas. That's my holiday. It's special to me, and I have lots of special ways to celebrate it.
Your holiday might be Christmas, or it might be something else. Fine. That's your life; that's your holiday. I would love it for everyone to celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, but these days, I'm just happy I'm allowed to celebrate it myself with my family, in the way that it is most meaningful to us - at church.
I should probably want more people to celebrate Christmas the way I do, but sometimes it's hard enough to just make sure my kids do. In this day and age, I don't think I am going to win any followers for Jesus by telling other people they are doing their holiday wrong. Everyone's holiday is sacred to them. They don't want to be told they are doing it wrong. My best card to play is to show the joy I get from communion with the Lord during this season, and see who God brings my way to join me.
Your holiday might be Christmas too, but you might celebrate it differently. To you, Christmas could be Santa Claus and reindeer. We don't "do the Santa thing" in our house. That doesn't fit with our holiday celebration. But that doesn't mean I'm going to tell your kids that the reindeer aren't eating the carrots you leave out.
We don't do "elf on the shelf," and to be honest, I nearly have to laugh at those of you scrambling to find a new antic for your little Ernie (or whoever.) But I love to see the faces of your kids when they see your set up.
What we do is lights. Lights first symbolized the Star of Bethlehem that led the Wise Men to see Jesus. And we do music. Because it was a Holy Night. We do the tree, Advent calendars, wreaths, angels, and candy canes. Because they are what makes a special way to remember Christmas, and what it means to us.
I am fully aware that Jesus was NOT born on December 25th, or even in December, or even in the first year A.D. of the Roman calendar. (Are you?) But we still open presents on December 25th.
I know that the wise men weren't at the manger when Jesus was born, and that they didn't reach him for a least a year after with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But there are still camels at the stable in our nativity scene. Also, there are 3 wise men in every representation we own, even though there were most likely many more than three who came to visit.
So I don't get really bent out of shape about how other people celebrate their Christmas. It's none of my business. It's their relationship, not mine.
Starbucks doesn't know how I celebrate Christmas - neither do I expect them to. So that red cup is just fine with me, as long as you get my drink right. I could do without the weird smiley lady on the cup, but since I'm just going to throw it away, who cares?
Now, let's talk about other judgments we are making of each other, shall we?
My kids listen to Christmas music every night (even in months that are not December) to help them go to sleep. Please don't tell them they can't do that. They like that music. It's uplifting, and I don't see anything wrong with that.
I usually do my Christmas cards in September. Because I have more time to do it then, and I have come across some good sales that time of year on pictures. Don't groan. I kinda like thinking about winter when the heat of summer has not fully escaped my porch.
Yes, I put my outside Christmas lights up on November 4th this year. I did it because it was sunny and 70º outside. My fingers work better in that kind of weather than the freezing rain or other harsh conditions I did before. I promise not to turn them on before Thanksgiving, since that is getting into your holiday space as you drive by my house. But allow me to put them up when I can.
I like to shop throughout the year, because I want a present I give to be something I saw and thought of someone. Not, a last minute guess about what a person might like. That's not what gift giving is about! (And trust me, I know about gifts.) To me it should be, "Hey, there's something this person would like. I'm going to get it for them!" Not, "Oh no, it's almost Christmas and I don't have something for this person! What's out there that I can buy for them?"
And, okay, I have the gifts. Why put them away and wrap them all at once? I wrap them as I get them. (When I can!) Then, I have time later to go to the mall, sit with a cup of coffee, and soak in the delights of the season. Stress-free. (Or almost free. I still have to get home to bake some cookies.)
But I know people who like taking a day to wrap their presents (people who LIKE to wrap presents, mind you, and obviously do much better than I do.) And some people (men) like to put up lights when it is so cold they can't feel their fingers.
If that's how they do their holiday, that is their holiday. None of my business. I just hope these people don't yell at me for celebrating mine how (and when) I do.
So tell me Happy Holidays, if that's how you celebrate. Thank you for making me a part of your celebration. I'm going to wish you a Merry Christmas to make you a part of mine.
Holidays aren't a way to pick apart how others are different from us. They really aren't a time to worry about what others are doing at all. They are a time to focus on what is important to us and why we celebrate in the first place.
So, may God bless you this Thanksgiving, and have a Merry Christmas.
Yep, I mean it.
Yes, I was the former Miss Kringle. My lights are up on my house before anyone else in neighborhood, and I shop and wrap Christmas presents all throughout the year.
But there's a reason I have those lights down by the day after New Year's - and that reason is because my husband won't let me take them down the day after Christmas. Christmas music stops at my house on December 26th. Many of you want to know why.
Christmas depresses me. Christmas Day, itself, that is. It isn't "society," or the retail businesses, or non-Christians that make me feel this way. And you might not even feel the way I do, either because you are just fine with how you celebrate, or because you do a better job of doing it "right." It is how I, myself, have fallen away from remembering why we celebrate. I feel like I'm doing it wrong.
We spend a month or so with enchanting music, mesmerizing lights, and whimsical decorations. It's such a beautiful season.
But no matter how hard we try, that day comes, and it's always the same. Presents and food. Sure, the night before, we go to church and remind ourselves about the birth of Jesus. We sing, we pray, we teach from the Bible. But for the kids, that is just the last obstacle standing between them and the toys they have been hoping for all year.
Alright, that sounds harsh. I mean, who can blame them? I was the same was as a child, and even, to some degree, as an adult.
For adults, our attention usually turns a different direction. Appeasing extended family and serving food - the right food, the right kind of food, the right amount of food, and so on. Maybe this isn't you, but it sure is me. Jesus is the last thought on my mind while I am setting the table for Christmas dinner, and I hate that.
The problem isn't how excited the kids get about the presents, or how anxious the adults get about which family members are visited when, or who is eating what and when. The problem is that our celebrating is interfering with our worshipping.
We should celebrate the birth of Christ. But can we celebrate without the celebration itself becoming the focus of the celebration? (Did you follow that?)
God has blessed us. My family is blessed richly, as are many in America. We have the means to buy our children presents and prepare and eat multi-course meals. We should be thankful for that too.
But here's what I wish. I wish we could celebrate Christmas in a different way.
Jesus was born in the humblest manner that could even be imagined for a God to set foot on earth. He was born in a dirty barn, among animals, to peasant parents. I feel like our Christmas celebration should reflect that.
I would love it if Christmas were just a day where nothing was expected except a quiet worship. Maybe your church could decide on a way to lead that worship, or maybe it would be led by your own family. Work and school would be cancelled for that day, but not so we could cook or play with toys, but so we could spend the whole day understanding that God came to earth to save us. Heaven knows, it would take at least that long to comprehend that.
Then, I feel we might actually be celebrating the Savior and not ourselves or our children.
Maybe we could still have an exciting day that involves presents and family and eating. But let it be a different day. We can still thank God for His provision. Then maybe I wouldn't feel like I have missed the boat in teaching my kids about the reason for celebrating.
He has given us good things - many good gifts - and we can thank Him for what we've been given. But something tells me He doesn't need such a grand display as we have made Christmas to be.
My favorite shop at the shore still is, and always will be, the Christmas store. I guess no matter what this Christmas brings, there's always hope that the next one will be more a reflection of the real reason we celebrate.
Passion Under Grace,