It happens every year. November rolls around, I break out the Christmas music and about three seconds later someone starts complaining. “It’s only November!” They say. “We just made it past Halloween, give it a rest.” They say. As if filling the homes of people around the world with hope and joy too early in the year is a terrible crime. Well this post is for all of you who listen to and enjoy the holiday season with the most fervent and dedicated posture. Because, let’s be real: Christmas is the THE BEST HOLIDAY ever. Hands down.
I get it though. For all of you people who are on the other side. There is nothing worse than a holiday that comes along and forces sentiment and good wishes down your throat no matter what’s going on. And insists that life is wonderful even if you’re penniless, just broke up with your significant other, got into an accident in your brand new car, etc. You get the point. And then there is the added commercialization of the holiday. Endless adds, endless fake Santa Clauses trying to guilt you into giving money you know you don’t have, endless commercials pressuring you to get everyone just the right gift even if you have to beg, borrow and steal the money to do it. You find yourself saying, “When will this madness end so I can get back to my real life??” And I don’t blame you. What I’m proposing is that Christmas is a tradition that is precious, worth preserving and well worth looking past all of those petty, surface level issues.
I’m willing to bet that maybe you just aren’t viewing the holiday properly. You might dread it instead of welcoming it with open arms. But in an effort to disarm you toward what I think is the absolute most wonderful holiday we celebrate, here are a few of the reasons I think it so special. Maybe I’ll change your mind, maybe I won’t. But at least give it a chance, eh?
First there are a few less important reasons why people generally look forward to the holiday season:
The cold weather finally returns. I suppose this depends on where exactly you live. Maybe you loathe cold weather. Here in the south though we live through long, humid, agonizing summers and when winter comes it’s like stepping into a cool refreshing pool of water, but it’s in the air! And you no longer feel like your going to die every time you step out the door. Which is something to get excited about. Plus there’s the added bonus of wearing big fluffy sweaters, huddling around campfires. Lights and warmth become present even more because the night takes over sooner in the day. Which makes us focus on being closer together for warmth and community. Perhaps not so much now that we have electricity and indoor heating, but if any of those things went away, we would very quickly convert back to gathering together, eating communally and remaining together not just for warmth but to lift the spirits too. I think something pretty remarkable should be said for that.
There will inevitably be sweets and treats GALORE. I know that for a lot of people this is also a burden. It doesn’t have to be though. There are a ton of recipes that can help you make your treats healthier, tips that can help you eat them less often, etc. And with the internet’s wealth of resources you can always find a recipe that works for you. And maybe you don’t care about what you eat and you love sweets or you have a special cheat day , if so, all the better! But this is something to be excited about whether you like sweets better or your grandmas favorite recipe for mashed potatoes. We only do this sort of thing once a year, ya know.
It’s an occasion that brings families together. Perhaps sometimes this is not something to look forward to. But the truth is, a lot of people dearly love their families and the holiday season provides a time of merriment and free time ( hopefully without work ) in which to spend time together reflecting on good things and memories you share. I know it sounds cliché, but take it for what it’s worth without the well-known sentiment attached to it. Seeing your family for the first time in a while, baking, watching movies, organizing parties, sharing memories, getting ( or making ) each other special gifts, meeting new family members for the first time, maybe even caroling or finding the perfect tree. You’ve got to admit, it sounds nice right?
Those reasons could be true of any holiday in the fall or winter though. Here are the reasons I think Christmas in particular is so wonderful.
It helps us keep tradition. There’s a reason tradition is such an important thing. It helps our ever wandering minds and hearts remember the things for which we are living, fighting or working. It brings, if we keep it properly, life back into the reason for what we do. It reminds us of the hope that we have, it gives us an avenue to pass down stories that might otherwise be forgotten. We recite, we read, we sing, we listen to and watch stories that tell us why we have hope, why we trust in the Lord, why we keep going and doing and being. And this, I believe, is good for our very souls.
We need to remember and believe in hope. I’ve heard many people tell me things like…”People are just bad.” “The country is going down hill so quickly we can’t rescue it.” “Christians are persecuted every time they turn around.” “It’s not safe to walk down the street.” ..and my favorite.. “I just hope the Lord takes me home soon, so this rotten world can go to hell!” (pardon the language). But you get the idea, everywhere you look people are sounding hopeless, dismal, discouraged and generally like they have just given up. But I don’t think this is the proper posture for someone who truly believes in the goodness and grace filled God that we call our own. The scripture says things like “..hope in the Lord..” and “..you will not be forsaken.” So even if things were all that bad, which I don’t believe they are, we should never allow ourselves to give up hope.
This is where Christmas comes in. A tradition which we have specifically set aside to help us remember and celebrate the birth of Christ.
And what is the significance of the birth of Christ?
We are no longer left hopeless. We are rescued. Because of His great love for us. And the songs. The songs tell us of so much, and they’re beautifully written..
God rest ye merry gentlemen, may nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray. Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. Oh tidings of comfort and Joy!
Long lay the world in sin error pining, ’til He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious ‘morn.
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. Yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
When I think of Christmas, this is the very thing that warms my heart. That the God we love would see us from far above, in a dark and hopeless world stuck in a desolate pit that we got ourselves into and say to Himself. “I will not let this remain so.” In John it says that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” And the day he was born was the day that dark and desolate world was introduced to the light and life that would guide it into the future with hope. It was the day our trajectory changed, the day evil knew it would be defeated, the day light pierced through the darkness to reach us right where we are, the day hope entered the world.
In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – The Book of John
Now, I want to be clear that I AM NOT just saying this because I feel it’s my christian duty to write a post about Christmas and remind everyone what the real “reason for the season” is (blah, I really hate even typing that!) If there is one thing I detest above almost all else it is saying things because they “sound christian.” Or saying things that I really don’t mean or don’t even like because I feel like I should say them. It feels utterly fake and shallow. I strive to speak and write only what I really, truly believe. With clarity and with actual conviction, I write and speak about what moves me, what has changed or challenged me, what I have experienced or learned. Never, ever, ever will I write something solely because it sounds nice and “christian-like.”
Alright, now that I’ve clarified let me continue. If we have the opportunity to celebrate such a truly joyous and hopeful occasion shouldn’t we be rather enthusiastic about that? I think so. As for me, someone who truly loves the Lord deeply and has been moved tremendously by what He has done for us in our despair, it makes my heart melt to think of it. And yes, it makes me want to play Christmas music in November, or maybe even earlier in the year like I dunno….June! That’s just how my heart works. Am I saying that you’re not a real Christian if you don’t care as much about Christmas? Definitely not, everyone is different. I’m just sincerely compelling you to give it a chance.
So to all my friends out there who are still not convinced, you should consider visiting an orthodox church service near Christmas time one year. They have a way of effecting how we see God and us in relation. (And if you never come around that’s alright I suppose, but you’re seriously missing out. 😉 )
And I’m also sorry to all of you who have put up with me listening to Christmas music at strange and seemingly inappropriate times. I love you all dearly, but it’s literally one of my favorite things ever so, it ain’t gonna change. #hatersgonnahate.