Why Some of Us Aren’t Crazy About Christmas

tree

 

Christmas doesn’t seem to work for everybody.  No, I’m not going to blame holiday consumerism.  It’s too easy a target, anyway.  My brother asked me the other day, “Can I use an Amazon gift card to buy somebody an Amazon gift card?”  That sounds like a blog post just waiting to happen.

Maybe it’s the overdose of seasonal music that makes us long for January. Personally, I like “Silent Night” the same way I like my opera…in 15 minute doses and then I’m good for a very long while. Here are a few other opinions on holiday music that I lifted from real twitter posts:

  • I just wanna get drunk off some wine, listen to sad music and watch Christmas movies all night
  • Christmas music is ruining all of the country stations.
  • People who don’t like Christmas music frighten me a little
  • I hate Christmas music. sorry
  • isn’t it weird that there’s a whole music genre dedicated to one day (Christmas)

Feelings are all over the board.

The exciting, hug-yourself, crazy Christmas joy we ought to be having doesn’t seem to be there for some of us.  Several news sources estimate that millions will basically suffer through the holidays this year—singles, displaced, bereaved, empty nesters, forgotten seniors.

Even for those of us with generally good, over-the-top memorable Christmases, we can still be afflicted with a weird, Charlie Brown melancholy.

Is Christmas broke?  There’s no way of telling until we unplug “Christ” from “mas” and take a closer look at each of them.  First, “Christ” :

An angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, saying, “I bring you good tidings of great joy…1  Okay, so far, no depression, no sorrow.  No loss.  No melancholy.  No loneliness.  In fact, just the opposite.

“…great joy which will be to all people.”2  That includes lonely singles, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, folks in assisted living, and anyone who ever lost anybody.  This good news is all about “a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” 3

Then there was “a multitude of the heavenly host  praising God.”Angels found the news so compelling they couldn’t restrain themselves.  And the shepherds couldn’t either—“glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen…”5

Okay, no problem here.  Christ isn’t broke.

But the “mas” of Christmas introduces Bing Crosby, stockings, parties, mistletoe, egg nog, It’s a Wonderful Life, trees, elves, Black Friday, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and Santa Clause.  None of these things are necessarily bad.  It’s just that they stir traditional sentiments, not praise.  Enjoy them.  But don’t expect to be lifted into some transcendent place.   Don’t expect to return to work on January 2, and like those shepherds, be forever changed.  Neither holiday ham nor neighborhood lights can do that.  Only the gospel can.

The confusion point occurs when we blur the line between the incarnation of the Son of God and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.   One stirs the presence of Almighty God, the other ghosts of Christmas past.  One is the meaning of life itself.  The other is for fun.  Never forget the difference.

After I’m done with an awesome visit with relatives, and my Charlie Brown tree has been packed away, and I’m back on the treadmill working off the Christmas cookies, I can count on one thing.  That is, I’ll kneel down in my basement near the thud-thud-thud of the washing machine, and talk to the One who originally caused the angelic outburst and the shepherd’s celebration.

He’ll say, I am here.

And for the ten thousandth time, I’ll rejoice.

 

1 Luke 2:10

2 Luke 2:10

3Luke 2:11

4 Luke 2:13

5 Luke 2:20

9 thoughts on “Why Some of Us Aren’t Crazy About Christmas

  1. I do love Christmas, but have to fight against the distractions which cause us to forget that we are celebrating the mystery of the incarnation, which we should be celebrating all year long.

  2. Great post that nuances the difference between Christ and Christmas culture while not bashing the enjoyment of the traditions; just keeping the traditions and memories as just that and not mini-gods that give ultimate satisfaction.

    Though John’s comment addressed a lot of Barbara’s thoughts, there was something that stood out to me that John didn’t touch on.

    Barbara, I noticed that you alluded to the book of Colossians. I may be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but I am assuming that you are referring to Colossians 2:16-23 (in particular verse 16). While these are great verses, we must be careful not to proof-text (take a text out of context to make it say what we want it to say).

    Looking at the context of the verses in Colossians, Paul is not forbidding the celebrating of holidays such as the Jewish festivals. These verses are not referring to Christmas and Easter; and even if we impose these Christian holidays upon these verses in Colossians, Paul would still not be forbidding the practicing of those holidays. He is actually saying that the New Testament Believers should not allow Old Testament festivals and practices to be imposed on them as though those keeping those practices makes them right or better in God’s sight. Paul’s point is that these practices are a shadow pointing toward the fulfillment that is in Christ.

    On a similar note, in Romans 14:6-12 Paul cautions those Christians who view every day the same not to pass judgment on those who hold to or celebrate some days as more special than others. In these verses, Paul goes to the heart under the holding of some days as special (in the case of your comment, Barbara, Christmas & Easter) – the heart of honoring the Lord.

    If people are celebrating Christmas and Easter and using them to honor the Lord and as great opportunities to pronounce Christ to others since these are two times of the year that Jesus and the Gospel are (for the most part) still central in people’s minds, we must be careful not to attack them, if we happen to be a person who holds all days the same.

  3. Barb, not to be mean, but you might want to clarify what you mean by “we.” Not every Christian sees things like you do. There has been a steady stream of innovations and traditions develop since the first century. Among them, things like hymnals, dedicated church meeting places, musical instruments (including the piano), technology (like amplifiers and recording devices), or even electricity. Some Christian groups swear that these are satanic, since the Bible does not explicitly mention them or contain them.

    I think the better question is not simply “Is it in the Bible,” but does this tradition contradict the revelation of the apostles? Concerning Christmas, many level-headed Christians would say “yes” in certain respects, it does. Rampant consumerism, sentimentality, and the lack of thinking about Christ at all except in December are all problems to be grappled with.
    And yet there’s this thing that happens every year on the 25th, where everybody to varying extents, has to consider Jesus (although there has been a move to do away with that as well). Like it or not, Christmas is as much a part of our society now as death and taxes.

    I suppose we could silently protest by not participating in any way shape or form. There are believers who do this, who see idolatry and “the world” in most everything of modern life. They’re called Amish and while we find their novel way of life interesting, they have long ceased to exert any factor of gospel influence on the rest of society.

  4. How about the fact that it unScriptural!! Completely the opposite of what is taught in Colossians. I LOVE my LORD, but can’t stand ‘Christmas’ or ‘Easter’. How about this – if the New Testament doesnt say to do it – we DON’T! ! Said with as much as possible.

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