I love Christmas. I'm one of those people who get excited about the red christmas cups at Starbucks, I can't wait to bust out scarfs, I pee a little when there are christmas lights everywhere, and the day after thanksgiving I only listen to Christmas music. I am one of THOSE people. So this blog may be biased. It may be a little naive and it may be an overflow of my optimism. But I need to write this.
I was picking up some of my YL friends for club and as we passed this very lit, very decorated house I slowed down and said (in a very 26 year old mature woman voice) "Heeeeyyy look at that happy house!" and in the back 2 of the boys were all of a sudden Ebenezer freaking Scrooge. "I hate Christmas it was a pagan holiday...Jesus was really born in the spring etc."
(I told them I was going to blog about them and they said it was ok and felt "honored".)
So I let them have their moment. Then everyone started talking about cup of noodles or something. This hasn't been my only experience with this kind of attitude. I've had several conversations with several different people about the "spoiled, fat, and lazy" reputation that we Americans have acquired. I mean black friday, I get it, it's gross how obsessed with things we are. I get that, and I don't deny that. I read a tweet the other day that said:
"Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas every year. It would cost $10 billion dollars to give the whole world clean water."
Yes, it's sad. Yes, we have an abundance of things. Who really needs a $3 toaster? I don't know. But here is the beautiful thing here. And if we can stop bitching (I can't think of a better word, so I apologize for those of you who never hear/read swear words...don't go to the movies) over how gross americans are and how spoiled we are I feel like we can find beauty in Christmas. So this is my soap box list, maybe it will help, maybe it will upset you, maybe you will just think I am silly and don't care about reality. But I do. Because Jesus is the reality here.....not $3 toasters.
1) There is Christmas music on the radio. I'm all for some Mariah Carey (BTW I highly doubt all she wanted for christmas was the guy she was singing about....just sayin') Guys....did you not read me?! There is CHRISTMAS MUSIC ON THE RADIO! Do you know what that means? That means apart from "let it snow" and "frosty the snowman" they are singing "Silent Night", " O Holy Night" and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" Have you ever read the lyrics to those songs? Example:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
They are playing this stuff in stores, on public radio, in supermarkets, in malls. This is a worship song. And it's the one time in the whole year where you will hear Jesus' name, life, and mission being honored and praised and no one is angry about it, and if they are no one cares. This is worship. And it's to Jesus.
2) Everyone knows what Christmas is about. Even if they say "happy holidays" they are basically just acknowledging saying "Merry Christmas" is offensive, which Jesus is. But no one can deny that this is a celebration of the birth of Christ, no matter what else you want to call it, no matter what you chose to say or celebrate. It's Jesus' birthday....maybe not literally of course...but where are our hearts? They are thankful, they are in awe. And if we can share that aspect of it without getting pissed off about the commercialism of it all, I think we can better spread the joy we have that this little baby came to save us and before He did we were hopeless.
3) Family time. No matter how dysfunctional, dramatic, or awkward I think it brings great joy to God that this day brings people together. Not just family, but friends, loved ones. God invented relationships and I like to think it makes Him happy when we are together.
4) Gifts. I've been told by many on numerous occasions that this is my love language. It makes sense I suppose. I LOVE gift giving. I love it. And yes, I've fallen victim to really tacky gifts, and I am sure I am victimized loved ones as well. But I like the fact that people think of each other. Even if it's in a superficial way as to "I HAVE to get so and so a gift". I am not embracing that as the way it should be, I think they should be thoughtful, creative, but not everyone has that gift.....seriously. Some people just aren't creative in the gift giving way, but here is the thing.....people are trying. People are trying! I love that. I hate money. But I like the idea that we are spending money on other people if only to just remind them we thought of them. There is something kind of innocent about that if you really think about it. It's like macaroni art when you were in kindergarden. You know deep down your mom isn't really dying to have one....I think at an early age we even think that....but dang, when you give it to her and she is stoked. I like to think it's like that while you are exchanging gifts. People are trying for other people. I think there is something lovely in that.
That's all I've got for now. I am sure I'll think of more...I always do.
Friends, this is the word we live in. And there are beautiful people in it trying to make it different. But what do we expect? It's a fallen world. Are we expected to understand how to celebrate a perfect and holy baby king? I don't think so, because even our purest worship is so much less that He deserves. But I do think we can try. We can try and make the best out of the fact that there is more to this season than black friday and shopping, and nasty fruit cakes, and egg nog. There is more here and I want to embrace the innocence here that Jesus came in a manger and wise men brought him gifts, and there was a star that led them to Him. I don't want to be angry at what we have made it, I just want to do it differently. And I think that is possible! I really do. Let's start by stop being so angry. How about it?
Let's sing along with the radio...