For several years now I've not been able to put into words my feelings or thoughts on Christmas, and why, for a time, I've found myself even cranky about it.
I think I've figured it out.
There are certain dates that stand out in my calendar year. Dates to remember. Obviously we all have birthdays. And then there are national holidays, world wide holidays, personal anniversaries or dates to remember, and then, in my life, the days several loved ones have gone before me into God's amazing presence, leaving us behind.
And since losing a son on January 12th, 2007, a son who was born June 10th, 2006, those particular dates have new meaning for me rather than just being days after my birthday or weeks before our wedding anniversary. They are kind of a big deal. But they also are not...
Let me explain. Every. Single. Day. I remember that we had a son and that he died. Every. Single. August through January, I remember that we spent 5 months in the hospital with our son that passed away. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday...these all over-lapped Noah's life in the hospital. Do I think about it at Every. Single. Moment? No. But it is part of my core. I cannot escape it. It has helped shape me. God is good and I do not despise having walked in the sufferings of Christ for God's glory.
But the pressure to make those days stand out more than the next...I feel like that is where we are missing out on something far greater...
...And that is a daily walk and celebration of knowing the God of the Universe, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, the Holy God who adores us. Every. Single. Day.
Jesus. Every. Single. Day.
So, for me, as far as Christmas goes, I am aware that Jesus came as a baby to this earth 2000+ years ago. Every. Single. Day. I am also keenly aware and wordlessly thankful for what His life meant for all of mankind, for me specifically, as well as His death and resurrection. Every. Single. Day.
Believe me, I am not Scrooge. I love Christmas for the fun traditions, recipes, music, parties, and the opportunity to just give things to people for no particular reason, just because I can. I love the decorations, twinkling lights, the smells and the spirit that comes out in people. I am grateful God made the mountains capped with snow splashed with trees that never lose their green...because even the trees and rocks and all of creation shout praises to our God.
We've always told Em about a man named St. Nicholas who gave gifts to orphans which is where the tradition began, but it hasn't ever been the central theme at our home. I think she sat on his lap once or twice, but she wasn't impressed. No, for us it's been about family and being together...being thankful...like an extension of Thanksgiving.
But, by any stretch of the imagination, I cannot justify that I give Jason and Emily and Ryan and others gifts because a long time ago Jesus was born and some wise men from the East made their way to Him to worship Him and shower Him with gifts fit for the King. They made their way to Him because God marked it in the sky to show these guys the way to the Truth, to eternal Life, to salvation...His very own star that led them to the feet of the Savior of the world.
No one really even knows when Jesus' birthday was, but most scholars and historians agree it was not December 25th. No, I give the people in my life gifts because I am thankful for them, not because I worship them. And I decorate because it's pretty. Does this mean I celebrate a pagan holiday? No.
So, what I think I've figured out is that, for me, it's okay to celebrate Christmas Every. Single. Day. Because it means I am celebrating the Life of Christ. It doesn't mean I have to put pressure on myself to justify the tree and stockings in order to make them "spiritual" in meaning.
Instead, it means if I am to celebrate the Life of Christ every day, it bears more responsibility, which is really nothing different from what I've known. That my life is not my own. That my attitude should reflect Christ. That I need to live life in a generous way, selflessly, giving to others...laying down my life for a friend.
That's not a one time a year thingy.
It's a lifestyle.
So, is Jesus the Reason for the Season? Kinda, sorta...
Jesus Christ is the Reason for Every. Single. Day.