Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display—so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn’t the holly, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t the tree not the firelight’s glow. It’s the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again. —Unknown
Christmas time is awesome. It’s also right around the corner. I can feel it. In fact, I start anticipating Christmas a littler earlier every year. I’ve tried to figure out why that is and I haven’t come to any definite answers. Sure, I love the season, the traditions, the family time, the gifts, the music, the movies, and most everything else that is connected with this time of year, but those things don’t seem to be enough to turn me into the sentimental sap that I’m becoming. And it’s getting worse. For crying out loud, I got teary eyed watching The Santa Clause with my family the other day! What does it say about me that not only did that actually happen, but that I am willing to admit it to everyone I know? Don’t answer that.
Sadly though, many of the people that I am around on a daily basis don’t view Christmas like I do. For them, it’s not very awesome. Most people I know are more depressed, more exhausted, more frustrated, and more hopeless this time of year than at any other time. It can prove difficult to keep my spirits high when I am around these miniature Scrooges, but I press on. Nothing can bring me down when Christmas is close at hand.
(Abrupt shift in tone ahead. You have been warned. I promise this is going to make sense.)
I don’t over spiritualize the stuff that happens in my life. Too often, I fail to see God at work even though I completely believe that to be true. I also believe that He intervenes in my life for my benefit. But I don’t discern it like I should. I am prone to overlooking God’s hand, to my detriment. One of my chief failings is that I shy away from outward expressions of gratitude and recognition when God is working in my life. I get uncomfortable talking about “spiritual” things around others, and I really don’t get that. It’s not that I am ashamed, but perhaps it’s that I don’t want to come across as one of those “Praise God!” people. You know what I’m talking about. These are the people that sound like they have one foot in heaven and one foot in a revival service. They don’t seem to be part of the same world as the rest of us struggling believers. They never seem to have any problems and God is always talking to them and clearly guiding them. I’m not knocking these people, it’s just that I don’t understand them and perhaps that is entirely my fault. That’s not my world or my life and perhaps it never will be. Where I live, things are not always easy or rose-colored. My life is full of questions and uncertainties. And I have a really good life from any viewpoint so I can only imagine what it’s like for some people that have had a much more difficult journey through life.
(…and we’re back!)
That’s a long way to get to my point. What were we talking about anyway? Oh yes, Christmas. That previous paragraph. . . that is why I love Christmas. Not making sense yet? Ok, I’ll try to explain. I am very willing this time of the year to be vocal about God, spirituality, and all the rest. It’s the meaning of the season, after all. Most people lower their defenses this time of year and that makes it much easier for me to be honest and truly express what God is doing for me, to me, and with me. I don’t have to hide behind my well designed façade; I can let it all hang out in a manner of speaking. For most of the year I am a very reserved fellow, but you get me close to Christmas and I sort of lose my mind. Food tastes better. The air is purer. Life is richer. There is a feeling of rebirth or starting over that is intoxicating and it is impossible for me to ignore it or hide it. I have a light and it must and shall shine!
Perhaps you are in love with the Christmas season as well. If so, I challenge you to put those good feelings to work. It can be daunting when so many people around you are discouraged and miserable, but isn’t that a good enough reason to tell them why Christmas makes you so happy? During this time they might just need a little good news and you have the best news in the world. Share it.
Now, I just need to figure out how to do that the rest of the year.
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas. —Henry Van Dyke