Listening to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” in the car as I drive down snow-dusted roads. Carefully hanging my handmade ornaments from kindergarten on the evergreen in my living room as I reminisce about my childhood. Belting out “Joy to the World” during the candlelit Christmas Eve service at church. Placing the final gumdrop on my colorful gingerbread house. That first sweet sip of hot cocoa. Watching “Elf” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” by the fire with my family after my last final. Sitting around the Christmas tree and hearing my dad’s voice read the familiar words of Luke 2. This is Christmas. This is what it’s all about.
Okay, I admit, maybe I’m biased. I’ve written several stories about why Christmas is my absolute favorite season (I encourage you to read “Decking the Halls…in November?” on thewildcatroar.com), and I just don’t think anyone will ever be able to sway me on this one. All that said, here are a few reasons why Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, flaws and all.
1) Jesus. I mean, I have to start with this one. Sure, Christmas has certainly become a holiday engulfed by consumerism and stress for many people, and it has also morphed into a secular tradition, as well. Although it may sound cliche, America has, in many aspects, taken the “Christ” out of “Christmas.” But regardless, you simply can’t deny what Christmas is all about. Because of the overwhelming love and grace of our Father, our Messiah made the ultimate sacrifice—and before He could do that, He had to come down and become one of us.
The perfect, holy Prince of Peace was willing to live among us, to become fully human, to endure pain and suffering, and to be born in the humblest of ways — in a barn, wrapped in burial clothing, and placed in a food trough. As my favorite Christmas song by For King and Country proclaims, “There’s a baby boy who won the war. . .Oh, before that silent night/ No savior and no Jesus Christ/ The world cried out so desperately. . .Yes, heaven’s reply was a baby boy. . .See, the king is coming down/ And he’s here without a crown/The baby boy without a bed/ Giving life back to the dead. . .Endless hope and relentless joy started with a baby boy.”
Regardless of how Christmas has evolved, the birth of our Savior cannot be dismissed or forgotten. Jesus is “the reason for the season,” and because of this, Christmas will never be overrated. I think the birth of the Son of God might deserve just a little bit of celebration.
2) Reunion with friends and family. I know for many people that family coming into town or traveling during Christmas can be stressful and draining, but it doesn’t have to be. Christmas is a time when families and friends gather together to celebrate not only Jesus’ birth but also the gift of their relationships, the blessings they’ve experienced this year, and the joy and freedom they can experience as they remember that the Savior has already arrived. I know all of these positives can be buried by the stress of gifts and the desire to create a picture-perfect holiday for your family. So, then skip that this year. Do you really think your kids, siblings, or parents will remember the gifts you gave them ten years from now? Probably not. But they will remember the laughs you had, the memories you created, and the way you made them feel when you opened up your home and your arms.
Take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with family and friends this year, and consider practicing Advent Conspiracy (check out this video: https://m.youtube.com/ watch?v=2yfnlhvmr-k), choosing to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all.
3) Traditions. I’m a sucker for traditions. From opening one present right before bed on Christmas Eve to making monkey bread on Christmas morning (I highly recommend) to reading the letter my mom writes as a summary of my year, I adore every tradition my family has created. Every tradition we have helps my family remember who we are, what matters to us, and what we value and believe in. These are the memories I will have when I’m older. These are the practices I will bring with me to my own family one day. These are the traditions that make us unique, special, and quirky, and no Christmas is complete without them.
4) And lastly, the feeling that Christmas carries with it. When I think of Christmas, I am transported back to when I was five-years-old, singing carols in my elementary school’s Christmas pageant, sledding down the hill in my backyard with my big brother, and sitting in the back of my mom’s car as my family drives around, searching for the best Christmas lights in our town. I just can’t help but smile. If Christmas brings back memories of stress, anxiety, or unfortunate memories for you, then I encourage you to change that this year. Create new traditions. Allow your heart to be filled with childlike wonder again. And remember that it’s really all about Jesus.
There’s a certain spark in the air during Christmas time. People seem to be a bit more joy-filled, willing to forgive, and excited to celebrate. And it’s this spark that encourages more compassion, empathy, and love. Christmas is a time when service is welcomed, positive change is encouraged, and hope is restored.