Sometimes I have felt completely inundated by Christmas. Why do we have to do all this? Yes, I know that we’re celebrating Jesus, but so many of the things we do at Christmas have little or nothing to do with Him. Maybe the reason we put up lights is because He is the Light of the World, or maybe we just love to have little twinkling lights during these long and extremely dark winter nights. Maybe the reason we buy gifts is because the Magi brought offerings to the Christ Child, or maybe it’s just because we enjoy giving and receiving surprises. Maybe we bake all the extra goodies as a celebration of His birth, or maybe we just like an excuse to eat chocolate and sugar. Maybe we decorate trees because…Honestly, I have absolutely no idea why we decorate trees! Whose idea was that, anyway?
We probably do those things for many different reasons, but nostalgia and tradition surely top the list. We remember the joy and excitement from childhood, and we want to continue that. Or perhaps our childhood Christmases were disappointing and we would like to make new and wonderful memories for our own children. The thing is, it can become quite overwhelming. When you Must send cards with a family picture, Must bake cookies for the neighbors, Must put up a tree and decorate it, Must buy and wrap a dozen gifts, Must go caroling, Must make candy, Must put on a Christmas pageant, Must read special Advent devotions, Must have a party for friends, Must have a special breakfast, a special dinner, Must put up stockings, as well as keeping up with all your normal daily jobs…well, the month can become a marathon that leaves you feeling emptied and exhausted.
I have wondered why it all has to happen then. If only we could spread it out through the entire year, surely we could enjoy it all more, right? Why can’t we bake cookies and take them to the neighbors in April? What would be wrong with singing a song outside someone’s window in July? Is candy making something that must be done in December? It’s almost like we have condensed every facet of hospitality and giving and sharing into one twelfth of the year.
We do all this Stuff, and we eat all this Stuff, and we buy all this Stuff, and life races by at a hectic pace while we frantically try to keep up. Yes, we talk about how Jesus is the Reason, but is He really? Is that what makes us do all these things we do? Honestly, it doesn’t seem like it. If we suddenly received a revelation that Jesus didn’t want us to recognize His birthday, would we cheerfully stop? Say, “Whew! It’s a relief to be done with all that!” No, we would mourn the loss of our cherished celebration.
What is it about Christmas that makes us do all these things?
I think it’s all about connection. We tend to get too wrapped up in our work, our projects, our mundane everydayness. At Christmas time, we step back from that and focus on connecting to all the people in our lives who are special to us. We are reminded how much richer our lives are with other people to share them. And we enjoy the love.
And I realize that it IS about Jesus after all.
His love, coming down, makes our lives worth loving.
Wishing a blessed Christmas to you and yours!