With Thanksgiving over, we are all now pushing ahead to be ready for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas parties, Christmas gifts, Christmas Dinner, Christmas decorating, Christmas travel, Christmas………………….. The flurry of activity around Christmas started well before Thanksgiving. In the midst of all this, we might well ask ourselves – What is Christmas Really About?
Good question. We have all heard that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” and we try very hard to keep that at the front of our celebration. However, it is easy to lose the simple meaning of Christmas in the flurry of activities, the pressures of the season, the financial burden, the array of emotions, and the silent pressure.
Peer Pressure for Christmas
If you live in a subdivision where ‘everyone’ decorates their homes to create a nighttime attraction, but you can’t afford to do that, you may feel huge pressure to conform. A visit to Pinterest this time of year will bombard you with thousands of fabulous decorating ideas. Maybe DIY is not in your vocabulary so you just have to shut Pinterest down, and, feeling like a failure, go to Walmart and Hobby Lobby to buy some Christmas magic! What if your Christmas tree draws yawns instead of ooohhhhs and aaahhhhs when the family comes over? Then, there’s dinner or breakfast or whichever meals your family traditions require.
The thing is, decorating, eating, buying presents, going to parties and all the other things we do at this time of year are wonderful. The problems don’t arise in the ‘doing,’ they arise in the pressure to measure up to some invisible “Christmas Ruler.” The television gives us visions of huge trees, draped in hundreds of lights and decorations with a minimum of 30 gifts on the floor around them as you step out of you 4,000 sq ft house on Christmas morning to your two brand new vehicles in the driveway wrapped in giant red ribbon!The problems don't arise in the doing, they arise in the pressure to measure up to some invisible Christmas Ruler. The television gives us visions of huge trees, draped in hundreds of lights and decorations with a minimum of 30 gifts… Click To Tweet
Where the Best Memories Come From
I don’t know about you, but I have never had a Christmas like that. I have had Christmases where the smallish tree was decorated with 10-year-old lights, and popcorn strings, balls that didn’t match, with a few presents, a well-used car in the driveway, in my 1,200 sq ft house packed with the 5 of us, two dogs, a cat and a hamster as we sat on our hand-me-down furniture, hoping the kids would be excited about new socks and jeans for Christmas. No gifts for my husband or I because we had to choose between us or the kids and one toy for each child was the priority. I have no complaints about those Christmases. Why? Because, in retrospect, they were wonderful. Our focus was not on ‘how much’ but on ‘how good.’
At the time, we felt bad that we couldn’t do more but, when our kids were very little, they had more fun with the boxes than the toys anyway! In later years, we were able to do more but the lessons we learned in the Broke Christmas celebrations made the later ones more precious. We learned what really mattered. First, we had each other. Second, our kids got over their initial disappointment and were not mentally or emotionally damaged by receiving socks for Christmas! They grew up to be stable human beings in spite of our inability to provide them with the In Debt Christmas.The lessons we learned in the Broke Christmas celebrations made the later ones more precious. We learned what really mattered. First, we had each other. Second, our kids got over their initial disappointment and were not mentally or… Click To Tweet
Christmas is About Jesus and Fun!
Christmas should be about fun, celebrating, giving, family, parties, laughter, and Jesus at the center of it all. Much of it is wonderful fun with family. And, hopefully, people figure out how to deal with the pressures to overspend and have a picture-perfect Christmas. The best memories in life are always the times that involve some sort of mess up or funny happening and this time of year is no exception.
Family adds an entire additional layer to the holiday. In the early years of our marriage, we had to go to at least 3 Thanksgiving dinners. My family, his family, and my grandparent’s house. It was very hard. Even though you want to see all those people, coordinating all the meals can be a chore. Another thing which can be difficult this time of year is when there are problems in the family or family members who are missing. Perhaps some are just away in another State or country. Some may have passed and others may have just not come. It brings some difficult emotions.
Don’t Let the Rush Push Jesus Out
In the middle of all these factors is one – The One who is the reason for the season. The true impact of Jesus’ birth and life can be completely lost in the rush of Christmas. So what is Christmas really about? Of course, Jesus’ birth. The miracle of all miracles. We love Christmas music, the traditions, smells, trees, lights and all the wonder that surrounds this moment in history. This moment upon which time itself is centered. Our calendar is based on the birth of Jesus. We have separated time into A.D. and B.C. Everything has a connection to Him – the lights, the evergreen trees, and even the giving of gifts.
One of my favorite activities at Christmas is the Christmas Eve service at Church. That service isn’t about the latest Christian song from our favorite artist, or the most profound, spiritually absorbing message from the Pastor. It’s about the old Christmas Carols, being with your friends, hearing the story of Jesus’ birth read from the Bible, and then turning off the lights and holding up our candles – which have become glow sticks! Not as sentimental, but much safer since I literally saw a woman’s hair catch fire at one Christmas Eve service. This service is a quieter, more thoughtful one because we are only focused on one thing.
God Becomes Man
For that one hour, everything is about God becoming man, taking on flesh in the most helpless form, giving up all power and might, to be with us. He came in a way we can all identify with – a helpless, sweet baby. He grew up just like we do. Then He became what we could not – the sinless Son of God dead, buried and risen again to eternal life. But for Christmas, He is the most dear and close thing we can imagine. God in the form of a human baby is incomprehensible and profoundly wonderful all at the same time. We know it is an unfathomable mystery and our hearts are opened and changed by it. We can identify, at least a little, with Mary and Joseph and their struggle that night. God put His divine nature in a form we could touch, see, and love.
The holy family caused us to incorporate family into our traditions. On Christmas, we want to join together with close friends and family as we should. What is Christmas really about? It’s also about family and connections with one another whether they are relatives, close friends, new friends or strangers. God came and made the ultimate connection with us through that helpless, vulnerable baby.
Christmas is also about celebrating. We celebrate His birth just as the Shepherds did and, later, the Wise Men. We celebrate each other. Family was God’s idea and still is and so it is for us. We should celebrate it and find comfort and love in it. Jesus came to reconcile us, God’s family, to God. His birth was the beginning of our rebirth into the Kingdom of God. Yes, Christmas is also about family and friends – people – the family of God.
What Christmas is Really About
Christmas is also about giving and we signify that by giving to each other. Again, giving is God’s idea. It is His nature. He gives and holds nothing back. Here is what Christmas is all about:
“During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. (Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time.) Everyone had to travel to his or her hometown to complete the mandatory census. So Joseph and his fiancé, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. After wrapping the newborn baby in strips of cloth, they laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village.
That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!”
Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:
“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.
When the choir of angels disappeared back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go! Let’s hurry and find this Word that is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us.” So they ran into the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a feeding trough.
Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was astonished by what they were told.
But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.
The shepherds returned to their flock, ecstatic over what had happened. They praised God and glorified him for all they had heard and seen for themselves, just like the angel had said.” Luke 2:1-20 TPT
A Good Hope Given to the Sons of Men
This is Jesus – a baby lying in a feeding trough is our rescuer, the Word, Yahweh, the Messiah, peace, and a good hope given to the sons of men. This is what Christmas is all about. All the rest, what we do now to celebrate His birth, is wonderful and we should do as much of it as is good for us and others. But, our challenge is to keep Him above all the presents, the decorations, the stress, the family, and the fun. He is what this wonderful season called Christ-mas is really all about. If the celebrations or pressure cause us to forget that, then we need to change what we do. If others try to get us to take Him out of this day, we must stand strong.
In truth, every single moment of our lives is about Him. But, we are talking about this time of year, Christmas and how we make sure that this special time of celebration is about the Lord Jesus, not all the other glitter and glow. The glitter and glow should be for Him and, in the process, we get to have fun, give gifts, eat till we can’t eat anymore, laugh, love, and, after all is said and done, make sure that He is the center.
Don’t Be Overcome or Made to Feel Inadequate
If you find yourself overcome by the pressures, talk to a friend or a pastor or someone who can help you find your way out. If grief and sadness are overwhelming, do the same. Find someone to talk to and help you work through this time. Whatever you do, don’t allow societal pressure to push you into debt or feelings of inadequacy. If all you can give your children is socks, then celebrate the socks! Be thankful and make the most of what you have.
A few days after Christmas day, no one will care what you did or didn’t do for Christmas. The decorations and lights will go back in their boxes and your kids will have new things they want for their birthday or some other reason. What will last is the memory of the love you have for Jesus and each other and that’s what Christmas is really all about – LOVE!
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
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