I admit it: I love, love, love Christmas. That is an established fact. My reasons for loving Christmas are more difficult to define. I'm sure cookies play a role, albeit a small one. Is it a decorated house? Presents? Or that enthralling pine smell? The biggest factor in my love for Christmas might just be the family time.
Above you see a quintessential list of Christmas cheer. But, good heavens, what about the true meaning of Christmas, that Jesus came down to earth to die for us? It may seem like a struggle to find a balance between a fun and joyful holiday and a pious, humble spirit.
Historically, Christmas has swung like a pendulum. On one side is a day of gluttony and frivolity, (Yes, I know I sound like Scrooge here); on the other side a serious and may I even say joyless holiday.
There is no more cliched Christmas phrase than the dreaded "true meaning". Twisted to mean humanism, selfishness, or shopping at Wall-mart, it can do all kinds of mischief.
Today, many Christians may feel guilty because their Christmas festivities seem Godless. "Be a light at Christmastime"; "Put Christ back into Christmas." Such reminders are well-meant. It's all too easy to have a worldly holiday. But sometimes it seems like we are dragging Christ into Christmas. This should not be. He should be a part of our lives all the time, not just another ornament we pull out on the 1st and put away on the 26th. We should ponder the mystery of the incarnation all year, not just between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
Furthermore, who's to say that a traditional American Christmas centers only on materialism? What about those family movies we laugh our heads off watching every year? What about lengthy tournaments of Rook and delicious home-cooked meals?
This does not mean we should forget about the Christmas story. We should consider it as a central and integral part of our holidays. Every holiday: Valentine's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving. Considering the end as well as the beginning; that the happy nativity scene was the first step on a walk to die and ultimately rise again for us, we should remember the Christmas story all year. And don't worry. Go ahead and open some presents.