Christmas is for children, not because of Santa Claus and the gifts he brings, but because of their joy, expectation, and innocence. As adults we become cynical or sad as the result of failures, disappointments, and even from remembering happy days long past. The warmth of Christmas radiates not from gifts but from the relationships of family and friends and the joy of being a part of something larger than ourselves.
People rant about the commercialism of Christmas, but giving gifts drives the momentum of expectation and turns us from thinking only about ourselves to considering the needs and wants of others. Of course, we can’t satisfy those with purely material things, but in sharing time and special occasions together we bind ourselves in ways beyond what is possible in everyday living.
Christmas isn’t about the birth of a child in a stable thousands of years ago. It is about the Grace of God that came to us to spread love and joy in the midst of violence, cruelty, hunger, and want. Christmas is only the prologue to Easter and the power of redemption when we give up control of our lives to Jesus. We have added many myths and celebrations to that of Christ’s birthday.
The traditions associated with Christmas in many lands and how they have come to set the context of how we celebrate that Holy Day add to the richness of the occasion. Although many of them have nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, they still add to the joy of holidays that lift us from the work-driven world in which we are so preoccupied with making a living that we often forget to nurture the relationships of those we love.
Christmas is about sharing love, no matter how you express that even if it seems superficial at times. We also receive love, and we can never reach beyond the depths of God’s love even in the midst of wars and despair. Accepting that love doesn’t gloss over the problems that we face, but it offers hope where otherwise there is no hope.
May the joy of children be with you this Advent Season.