Christmas. The day after will immediately bring secular (and some Christian) radio stations to close up their cabinets that contain their Christmas music and go back to the day to day song lists. The department stores will begin condensing their Christmas items well before Christmas, marking them down, what seems earlier than usual each year and now in their place, shelves are lined with Valentines Day paraphernalia.
Christmas will soon come and go and soon be over. Children will be riding their new bikes, teens will occupy their time with their newest electronic devices, adults will be spending their gift cards and be preoccupied with worry over how they will pay their credit card bills in the ongoing, depressing recession.
Christmas will be put away in the past one more time – at least until next September. The department stores will remind us that the season of gift-giving and receiving has once again been tucked into the past.
Last Christmas was different here. The holidays weren’t carried out in the usual way. The day after Thanksgiving wasn’t spent cutting a fresh Christmas tree with family. Hot chocolate Snugglies weren’t sipped as the tree was (not) decorated and Black Friday sales weren’t visited in the dark of the morning. Instead, my focus was on the reason for Christmas at the onset of the holidays.
Christmas didn’t originally start with Santa, as the retail industry would have you believe by the official red and green color scheme of the winter holidays. It didn’t start with candy canes and peppermint candies, mistletoe or bright colored packages with gifts hidden within. It started with a little baby, promised to mankind and born of a virgin. The more I concentrated on that baby, the decorative greens and reds began to fade and nothing else seemed to matter – nothing but that little baby boy.
I entered a Christmas story contest about Jesus’ birth and perhaps that’s what caused my attention to be solely diverted to the manger scene. Or maybe it was not being able to decorate as early as possible (I love to decorate for Christmas). Whatever it was, I found myself enjoying Christmas even more. Let me take you to where I visited…
The Manger Scene…
I thought of how cold Mary must have been as she labored in birth. The shepherds – did they think they were going crazy when the angels appeared? After all, how often do you actually see angels out in sheep pastures?
I thought about the wise men and the gifts they brought to honor that little baby laying in the feeding trough in a stable. The innkeeper – did he have a wife and if so, did she help Mary? Then there was Joseph. Did he really accept this little boy as being the Son of God? Was the angel in his dreams the real deal or was he just… dreaming?
So many of my thoughts surrounded that event. Thoughts that captured my attention instead of all the merriment that seem always to fade as Christmas gifts are opened around the tree.
By the time the day after Christmas rolls around, we wonder where Christmas actually went. But Christmas doesn’t have to end the next day and we don’t have to go back to our regular routines that don’t allow time to ponder the reason for this day.
It seems that for the most part, when Christmas day has come and gone, it ends for so many until the red and green décor reappear come September. The trees come down the next day, the return lines are filled with disgruntled gift receivers, and the leftover turkey takes on a new flavor as it’s gobbled up for the next day’s supper as something unrecognizable. Christmas can be celebrated all year, but it takes a change of mind. We have to change our thoughts from running through our lists of fix-its, making sure everything is just so, and instead take time throughout the year to pause and think about that little baby boy. We will have to realize that even though He was born on Christmas day, the story doesn’t stop there.
How I wish we could bottle the positive attitudes, the joy of giving, the merriment, the spirit of love. Store it up so that every other day throughout the year we could open it and sprinkle a little on the new day. Maybe then we might be able to capture the wonder of the holidays, all year through. If we could just set aside ten minutes each day focusing on His words, sitting and talking with just Him, walking with Him as we take a stroll down the road or ponder on Him while we tend to the garden. Set aside ten minutes to get back to where we started before we lost our way through the secular wrappings of Christmas. As Elvis said, if every day could be just like Christmas – what a wonderful world this would be!
December 30th. Will you be pondering where Mary was laying her head five days later? Asking yourself if the proud, new parents were still making use of the stable? Did the animals that witnessed the birth of a king actually know what was taking place in their home?
So many questions don’t seem too important when you’re focusing on this little baby. Gifts, carols, and candy canes don’t seem relevant and yet, they’ll continue to be until we take our eyes off society’s definition of Christmas and realize that Christ didn’t come for just a birthday party, but to save us. Something Santa can’t do.