If Christmas isn’t
As a child, I counted the number of “sleeps” until the big day. Each morning, there was one less “sleep” until December 25. This special day, for me, meant little work, plenty of play, a heap of family, and a mess of food. Oh, and presents. Don’t forget the presents. Because, after all, it could not be Christmas without presents.
Except that we didn’t get that many gifts – and the ones we got were sometimes hand-made, hand-me-downs, or from Goodwill. Really. It didn’t need to be new for us to be excited and to feel we had received a real gift.
There was the excitement of that morning – when we were not allowed to come downstairs until we heard Joy to the World playing on the phonograph plugged into the time-bake oven. There was excitement of piling into the living room together and taking turns opening our gifts. It made the morning last longer and possibly even made it seem like there were more gifts, because only one was opened at a time. Had we compared ourselves with other families, we could have thought “It can’t be Christmas without more presents.”
The Wrong Thinking
This year, things are different. Families are scattered, and many are unable to travel. In my state, restrictions from the governor say a family my size should not be together in the same room. Health care workers are prohibited from mingling with large crowds – because of COVID. Financial reversals due to the coronavirus leave many without funds for travel or for gifts. This year, perhaps, things will be different. We can think “Christmas isn’t Christmas” because we won’t all be together and what used to be won’t be here this year.
Perhaps we’ve lost a loved one the past year. Plans we made were thwarted and the celebration will be small. A ZOOM meeting might be the best we can do. We’re missing those who have died or those sequestered in a nursing home until this virus is over.
Can it be Christmas without them?
How to make it real
If you’re not a believer in the real meaning of Christmas, this will not resonate with you. If, however, you claim the Babe in the manger and the Christ of the cross as your Savior, then you’ll want to keep reading.
No matter where you live, or what your circumstances, the reason for this season does not lie in our comfort or our situation. When we strip away all the extras – shopping, baking, caroling, visiting, eating, gift-giving, family time, programs, exchanges – we still have Christmas. That very first one was simple indeed. There was nothing glamorous about a stable or a manger for a cradle. Nor did advertisements draw attention to this noble birth. There was no announcement to the world, or to Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Savior. Yet He came.
He was born to die, and born so we can live. That’s what Christmas is! It’s the celebration of an incomprehensible love.
There is no glitter or parade that outshines what took place that night. No accolades or traditions transcend the power of the Cross and symbol of the stone in front of that tomb.
Nor can there be any celebration the world over that rises above what took place on Easter Sunday – when the Babe of the manger, the Christ of the cross erupted out of that tomb – ALIVE.
Because He came, because He died, and because He rose again, He is alive. Immanuel. God with us. Remember that this is the reason He came. This is the reason we celebrate. And this is why Christmas will always be Christmas, no matter what.