Our culture’s way of celebrating Christmas is to cram as much in it as possible, while exhorting us to reflect on its deep meaning in relationship to faith and family. It’s like mixing oil and water, or Nat King Cole and Metallic. It’s impossible.
“More” is the mantra of the season. More eating, more drinking, more parties, more obligations, more gifts to buy, more money to spend, more impressions to make, more appearances required, more dreams to fulfill, and more memories to try to reproduce.
“More” leaves everyone exhausted and cranky, and it robs us of the time and stillness to reflect on what we call the real meaning of Christmas.
But the best parts of Christmas are disconnected from “more.”
The best parts for me have been…
- Our great granddaughter screaming with glee, “Colors, Papa (our son,) colors!” as she ran along Christmas Lane. All I needed to do was hold her hand, or just hang back and watch and enjoy.
- Our great grandson who looks like a cherub. Seriously!
- Our daughter and son-in-law arriving from Minnesota after driving through a snowstorm with our one-month-old grandson. That was thirteen years ago. I was more excited about Christmas than I ever was as a child.
- Freezing my butt off with my son, cooking steaks on the grill for kabobs on Christmas Eve. Those conversations are the best.
- The flurry that ensues when everyone (kids, grandkids, great grandkids, a stray friend, and dogs and cats) all descend on our house at Christmas Eve for the food, the Christmas Story, and the gifts, because it’s what we do on Christmas Eve. It is tradition we have been able to maintain through all of these years.
- Watching A Christmas Carol for the gazillionth time. The one with George C. Scott is the best.
Getting quiet enough to think about…
- God becoming man
- Teenagers with a hard to explain pregnancy making a grueling trip at cruel time in their nation’s history.
- Most people being clueless about what was going on.
- Unlikely people (Shepherds were the ultimate blue collar types, and the Magi were strange people of a different religion and race.) being surprisingly insightful, worshipping a peasant baby.
- Giving birth in a damn barn, of which most of us have some sort replica, however inaccurate, somewhere in our homes, this time of year.
- The mystery of it all…angels in dreams, ancient prophecies coming to life, a glimpse of an innumerable angelic chorus.
- The raw-nest of it all… barns and animals, taxes, governmental intrusion, corruption, difficult travel, no place to stay, or even to have a baby.
- The lasting reality of it all…incomprehensible, undeserved, unquenchable love, an example that will always inspire and challenge me, compassion from one who understands, ultimate sacrifice, ultimate victory.