Whenever I think about the Christmas Season, my first thoughts turn to lights, music, gingerbread, presents, concerts, snow, mittens, icicles, holly, evergreens, mis-matched tree ornaments, waiting for Santa Claus, hot chocolate, and fireplaces. I have a feeling these images are created in most minds —the “hullabaloo” of Christmas is something most of us face. Our memories are riddled with the commercialization of the holiday, and for whatever reason, we see the month of December as one of stress and chaos. But are these images wrong? Could it be possible to recognize and celebrate, in quiet contemplation, the birth of our Savior while participating actively in all of the hullabaloo?
The author E.B. White (1899-1985) once said:
To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.
Is it difficult to see Christ in Christmas when focused on the wrapping? Perhaps. But, perhaps contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe these thoughts have to push out the “true meaning” of Christmas. Instead, they can evoke a feeling of love, service, excitement, childhood faith, and a longing for peace.
It is true that there are times, amidst all the wrapping of gifts, the baking of goodies, and the stringing of lights when our anger, frustration, and exhaustion can catch up with us. We wonder if any of the traditions are even worth it! How could these details possibly remind us of the Infant Jesus? How does it remind us of His life and mission?
But it only takes a moment to see the hidden treasures inside of the stress and chaos.
For example: We stress over service, but laugh with joy at a gift given. We worry over a performance, but rejoice with an evening of spectacular music. We sacrifice time to decorate and bake, but we are surrounded by family and friends, enjoying the symbols of love and peace (and eating good food!).
For many, truly celebrating the birth of Christ means moments of quiet reflection. It means focus upon what the birth of a Savior did for us. This is good! But with that focus, I believe we can see significance in family traditions, inspirational Christmas concerts, fun parties, gifts, decorations, and food. With all of it can come a unity and a desire to be better than we are —and isn’t this what the Christmas season is all about?
I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become… but there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress.
– May Sarton (1912-1995)