Katie and I have been debating for the past few weeks the merits of putting up a Christmas tree in the house. She doesn’t want one because it’s a hassle and because “Christmas isn’t about trees”, unless of course we’re talking about Little Debbie Christmas Tree snack cakes, with the white icing and multi-colored sprinkles, that only come out this time of year, in which case Christmas is ALL ABOUT trees. Yum.
I on the other hand want to do a tree because I like to decorate for Christmas. Our house back in Pennsylvania was an old Victorian, built in 1894, with all the normal wood trimming and elegance typical of a Victorian style home. I loved decorating it during this time of year, partially because it looked amazing with all the lights and garland and partially because it was the one time of year house guests wouldn’t notice the scratches on the floor, mounds of dust in the corners, a lead-based paint chipping from the windowsills. If you’ve ever owned an old home, you can empathize.
But our debate has caused me to ask the question, what is Christmas all about? And, depending on how I answer that question will then directly influence the way I conduct myself during this time of year.
Well, what Christmas is all about has a simple answer, at least to a Christ-follower that is, which I just happen to be one. It’s all about Jesus and His birth.
What doesn’t have such a simple answer though is how does that influence the way I conduct myself during this time of year. No, I don’t mean should I be nicer or more polite or more giving or more ________ (you fill in the blank), because the reality is that as a Christ-follower I should just be those things all year round, not just at Christmas.
I suppose what I mean is, should I do traditional Christmasy things like, buy presents, and decorate, and sing Christmas carols, and, again, you fill in the blank. Or should I take more of an antithetical position and bah humbug anything that isn’t Biblically based and contained within the four walls of the church between the hours of 5p on Christmas Eve and 9am on Christmas day. In other words, if it didn’t happen in Luke 2, it’s not happening in my house.
I wrestle with this every year at Christmas time. Do you?
So, here’s my thoughts on the matter. I know that not everyone will agree and that’s ok. Or maybe you’ll agree with some stuff and not everything, and that’s ok too.
I’m going to approach Christmas for what it is, a birthday party, and I’m going to celebrate the same way I celebrate any birthday. By having fun and enjoying myself.
I mean, December 25th is that day that humans around the globe have chosen to acknowledge as being the day of Jesus Christ’s birth (even though in all reality it was more likely sometime in the Summer or early Fall). Whether or not a person is a Christ-follower and they ever go to church or do anything remotely acknowledging Jesus as the Savior of the world, they still at least recognize that December 25th is the day of Christ’s birth. So because of that, I’m going to celebrate this year because December 25th is Jesus birthday, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it either.
I can buy presents for my kids and wife…and maybe slip a few things in for myself. I can decorate my front lawn with stupid inflatable reindeer and toss that shiny stick-to-everything-for-the-next-six-months silver tinsel on my tree. I can play Christmas carols at full-blast and even do a little lip-curled-hip-shake when Elvis sings about his “blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.” I can attend a Christmas party and have fun and be goofy and even toss back a few cups of egg-nog. Which by the way reminds me…make sure you’re at SCC on the 15th at 5:30p for the church Christmas party. And on Christmas day, after our family has gone through our normal ritual of making sticky buns in the oven, reading the Christmas story, and attempting to put balls of wrapping paper in a trash bag faster than Elliott can tear open the presents, we’re going to go to the movies, because that’s what we do every year on Christmas Day.
Why can I do all that stuff? Why WILL I do all that stuff…and not feel guilty that I’ve somehow lost or forgotten the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Because I DO know what Christmas is all about. It’s all about Jesus and His birth and coming to this Earth to save me from my sins.
I can, and will do all of those things because despite all the potential trappings that can often come with this festive holiday, I’m going to continue to demonstrate Christ-like characteristics, that I strive to demonstrate every day of the year.
I going to continue to demonstrate grace and empathy and humility when I see someone who could use a shoulder or a helping hand or maybe a few extra dollars. And i’ll thank God that he’s blessed my family enough to be able to do so.
I’m going to continue to demonstrate self-control and patience and not go into debt for presents and not drink too much egg-nog at a Christmas party (not the SCC party though because we won’t have any alcohol there, just an FYI) and i’ll only put up one inflatable reindeer in my front yard instead of five. And i’ll thank God that he’s blessed me with a house to decorate horribly and friends to share in good times with.
I’m going to continue to demonstrate kindness, and gentleness, and peace this Christmas, even when I’m standing in line at Wal-mart and the person in front of me somehow forgot how to use the scanner that they’ve used a million times before and their kids are crying and screaming about wanting this and that and my kids keep knocking all the gum off the rack and Zabe keeps disappearing into the next isle over to “show Elliott something” and someone from church wants to pull me aside and have a long discussion with me about something we’ve already talked about before and oh my gosh I left my wallet in the car and now Nevin has wandered off to see what’s in the Red-box and can we please rent a movie and I have an appointment to get to and I’m going to be late and Katie just texted me to ask to also get milk and are you kidding me cause my hands are full cause I was too lazy to get a basket or cart and can’t even reach into my pocket to check my phone and…..I HATE GOING TO WAL-MART!! But…I’m going to be gentle and kind and at peace with all this because (as I clench my teeth) I love Jesus and that’s how he’d want me to be and i’m not going to allow circumstances and trials to negatively impact my testimony for God.
I’m going to continue to be and do all those things written in Galatians 5:22-23 and elsewhere in scripture because I’m a Christ-follower and I’m going to enjoy Christmas and have a party ‘cause it’s’cha birfday Jesus and I’m NOT going to feel guilty about celebrating and having fun and enjoying myself cause I’m truly happier than Buddy the Elf about what Jesus did for me because if he wouldn’t have been born, then I wouldn’t be saved.
So, Jesus, happy birthday!!
…Oh, and Kaite….we’re getting a stinking Christmas tree!!
Oh, and just a PSA since I have your attention…All Christmas decorations must be removed from the exterior of your homes no later than January 2nd at noon. I don’t care what the inside looks like after that but everything outdoors must be taken down. SCC will be excommunicating all violators. Mmmk. Thanks a bunch. 😉