I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about Christmas and what it really means, and what it really means to me. As a church we are reading a book through Sunday School called Christmas is Not Your Birthday by Mike Slaughter. I am using the youth study edition for youth group right now called A Different Kind of Christmas. I think reading these books and thinking about it so much has brought to realize why I often find this holiday annoying. I find the American version of Christmas to be quite annoying and I have figured out why.
Santa is the first place that over the past few years I have become annoyed with. It isn't Santa exactly but what we have made him. St. Nicholas the man who became Santa was a very generous priest that wanted to make sure that children didn't go without. He would sneak around and deliver toys or food or money to these families that didn't have enough to provide for their children. He didn't want people to know it was him he just wanted to provide for the poor like Jesus asks us to in the Bible, he didn't need the recognition or glory of his good works, just knowing that these families would be able to live a little easier was enough for him. Somewhere along the line this humble story wasn't enough for us so we gave him magic and sleigh, elves, and reindeer. Now he is a way for us to keep our children in line the rest of the year because you better watch out, he sees you when you're sleeping and he knows when you're awake. This works for children because they don't want to miss out on the amazing toys that Santa brings that mom and dad cannot afford. Instead of helping the poor, sick, and lonely Santa helps feed our selfishness and our greed. So no, I do not believe in Santa Clause, I believe in St. Nicholas' cause.
Christmas music, I have always been somewhat of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas music. I find it rather annoying that it takes over our radio stations and music at the stores from the day after Halloween until the first of the year. I can only here Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer so many times before I want to scream. But then again I could listen to Mary Did You Know?, Christmas Makes Me Cry, Little Drummer Boy, Where's the Line to See Jesus?, and Go Tell it on the Mountain from now until next Christmas and not get tired of it. I have 57 Christmas songs on my computer, I just checked, and each of them have something to do with the true meaning of Christmas. Sorry, Frosty but you won't find a home on my computer, and Rudolph can find a home somewhere else because Joy to the World, It's about the Cross!
I have learned that sometimes holidays bring out the worst in people. Everyone is striving for the perfect tree, the perfect gifts, the house must be cleaned, and the food better not be messed up. When there are people this winter season that will go without food, and will not be able to stay warm. The book we are reading talks about how this Holiday that we all stress over was never even meant to be a holiday at all. This day of gifts, food, and family started in the most humble of ways, a dark night in a smelly stable a baby was born. A baby, a tiny innocent blessing was born and visited by shepherds, they probably also were smelly and cold and tired. There was not much "perfection" in the first Christmas. If we would have had our way Jesus would have been born in the best hospital in the world, delivered by a world class pediatrician and Mary would not have had to feel any pain. Joseph would have fed her ice chips and held her hand as the Son of God came to Earth in the most beautiful way. He would have been visited by the elite and they would have needed a semi to take all of the gifts home. That is the way we make Christmas seem, with our beautiful nativities and cute little Christmas programs. When the reality of the day is that it was painful, smelly, humble, and yes, beautiful. This holiday should bring out the best in people. We shouldn't be stressing over our presents and turkeys but should be focusing on a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. If we lived as Christians all year long then we wouldn't need angel trees, and coat drives during Christmas, everyone would be taken care of all year long, not just during the winter months.
Now I'm just as guilty as everyone else, I LOVE buying people gifts, I don't even need a holiday to do it, but this is a great excuse to shower the ones I love with things they probably don't need! So yes, I have presents that are waiting to go to the person they were intended for and I can't wait to spend some quality time with my family for the holiday and I will most definitely eat too much food. The fact is though, this Christmas my mind is in a different place. I want to have this joy of the season all year, and "I want the world to see the joy that lives in me" and I have plans for my future family and future Christmases. The truth of the matter is that Christmas is NOT my birthday and I shouldn't be living as if it were. I wish we did presents and things like that on a different day than the day we have chosen to celebrate Jesus' birthday. Christmas Day should be all about Jesus not about us. I think we should all throw a big birthday party for Jesus and spend the day with our families reading His word. Sorry (not sorry), future children, this is what you have to look forward to! :) We can open presents on a different day and Santa will go back to being St. Nicholas.
I want my family to know the true meaning of Christmas from it's humble beginning in Bethlehem to the origins of all the things we have added to it over the years! I see a change in my future Christmases and definitely in my attitude towards this Holiday Season!
I pray you find the true meaning of Christmas this year, and as you open your presents and laugh over the corn left in the microwave again, say a prayer for those left out in the cold and maybe just maybe find a way to share your blessings with those less fortunate than you!
Happy Birthday Jesus, maybe someday we will figure out just how to celebrate the right way, and thank you for your Grace that you love us even though we have taken this glorious humble beginning and turned it into another reason spend money we don't have! <3