by Ella Corey
When the holiday season comes along there are many different ideas that are incorporated. Not only are there different holidays, but also different ways to celebrate… Christmas especially. You’d think it’d be obvious, Christmas is for celebrating Christ’s life, but maybe not. According to a Pew Research Center survey done in 2013, about 81 percent of non-Christians in America celebrate Christmas. Because there are so many different types of people celebrating this holiday, everyone does it a little bit differently.
There’s the “Secular Christmas”: Santa’s everywhere. Shopping discounts, reindeer and anything with bells fill our malls and lawns. This is the Christmas of smiles, jolly tunes, insane shoppers and work holiday parties. The secular Christmas focuses on what great deals we can get and how much eggnog we can drink. Self-centered and materialistic, this type of Christmas revolves around the gifts you receive and how you can better your own situation.
There’s also the “Moral Christmas,” that focuses on family and giving. These are the people who watch A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life and the feel-good Hallmark movies. The ones who claim “America has lost the true meaning of Christmas” yet fail to see that Christ is the meaning. Those who celebrate a Moral Christmas may show up to church, but only out of obligation, not to worship. They go because they think they have to and feel extremely uncomfortable doing so.
Lastly, of course, is Christ’s Christmas, the “reason for the season.” Here we see advent calendars and nativity scenes and hear Silent Night about a thousand times. Hearts excited to read and reread the birth of a Savior, the birth of New Life.
Unfortunately, I often find myself getting way too caught up in the first two ideas of the season. Yes, I still love buying gifts for others, and find spending time with my family is very important, but I often miss the point. Growing up in the church I’ve heard the story of Jesus’s birth so many times that it has somehow lost its significance. The Son of God was born and changed every single one of our lives, yet somehow so many of us forget it.
In reality, both a Secular and Moral Christmas aren’t even fulfilling. Money and gifts can only please you for so long, you get bored and you want something else. I’m sure we all experienced this as kids. You play with your new toys but then a couple days later the new edition comes out, and your Christmas gifts don’t seem so great anymore. Additionally, for a lot of us, Christmas brings a lot of sorrow and weight. With family members missing, or not enough money to get the right gifts, sometimes the holiday season leaves us feeling weary and distressed, rather than filled with joy and love.
It’s important to remember that as Christians we have been given the greatest gift of all time, and because of this we celebrate this time of year. Christ has come to redeem us, wash away all of our sins and we have been granted eternal life. This gift will never fail to satisfy us. Paul sums this gift up very well in 1 Timothy 1:15-17: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
The slogan “Jesus is the reason for the season” comes up every year, but my encouragement is for you to actually reflect on this more often. Try not to let the other ideas of Christmas distract you, and remember where true Christmas Joy comes from. President Calvin Coolidge once said, “To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.” I pray that our true spirit of Christmas comes from Christ and Christ alone.