The stores are full of holiday shoppers. The television networks are playing holiday programs. The radio stations are airing the holiday classics. In fact, the holiday season is in full swing.
What holiday it is that everyone is busily celebrating generally remains unmentioned. Saying its name might offend someone.
So we focus on snowmen and animals and gingerbread houses and tinsel and lights and trees – in fact, we focus on anything other than the Person whose coming created the holiday in the first place. When the media gets close to anything that might remind viewers of the real nature of the holiday, they carefully strip it of anything truly spiritual. So we have angels who are magical instead of holy, and a Santa Claus who is all Claus and no Santa.
We have all heard about government school holiday concerts where the children can sing about anything but the reason for the holiday. We are all sick of being told that municipal authorities can put up any holiday decorations except the ones that actually represent the holiday. And we have all complained about merchants who never mention the name of holiday that is really bringing the shoppers into their stores.
But a drive down any street to enjoy the holiday decorations put up by private citizens on their own property does not look any different from a walk through a politically correct department store. There are lights, stars, angels, a variety of animals, reindeer, sleighs, bells, Santa’s, and trees.
But we are not celebrating just another holiday. We are remembering the day when we were given the greatest gift that mankind has ever received. We are celebrating the birth of the Christ, the Child who came to redeem us. Christmas without Him is like a bare dinner plate followed by sugary icing over the empty shape of a cake.
Our children deserve more. They deserve the entire meal.
Most of us have decorated our homes. Do those decorations reflect just another holiday, or do they proclaim the glory of Christmas? Would a stranger who looked at our homes know what Christmas is really about, or would he walk away thinking that the penguin was cute? Imagine the impact of hundreds of homes with prominent displays of the Nativity in their front yards.
Most of us have holiday traditions. Do they include sharing the Christmas story in a meaningful way with our children? Do our children, who can all sing “Jingle Bells”, also know the words and tune to “O Holy Night”? The schools may not be doing it, but nothing is stopping us parents. Imagine how much deeper and more joyful our Christmas could be if we actually focused on the Child whose birth we celebrate.
In the past, Christians have been openly and viciously persecuted for their beliefs. We are only told to stand in the back of the bus and be quiet. If our predecessors could proclaim Christmas in the face of torture and death, we should certainly be able to do so.
The Child who came to us at Christmas came to transform our lives with love. Acknowledging His arrival opens us up to that transformation. It is a gift worth celebrating.