I love the Christmas season. Not just Christmas Day or Christmas week, but the entire month (or 5 five weeks, depending on the year!) that we set aside to celebrate Christ’s birth. When I was younger, this love grew out of the joy and excitement of receiving gifts, but also of being with extended family. As I grew older, I found a specific joy in giving to others–of watching someone else’s eyes light up over a gift that had cost me thought and money. And while I do still love the giving and the receiving aspects of Christmas, I’ve realized lately that those things are only peripheral joys in the midst of a love that goes much deeper.
So why I do I love the Christmas season? Here are a few of my reasons:
- There is time for reflection. Unlike Thanksgiving, which is really one day and done, the Christmas season offers us several weeks of focus on what we celebrate and why.
- Life slows down. Yes, there is that initial frenzy of Christmas parties and programs, but the week of Christmas Day and often the week after Christmas Day, too, usually grinds to a halt, leaving us time and energy to focus on those closest to us, even if just for a few days.
- The symbolism of the decor. I love the weeks that my house is decorated for Christmas because as I go about my life, I see the nativity and am reminded of why we celebrate. I see the lights bold in the darkness and remember that Jesus is the light of the world, and He’s declared me to be the same. I see the gifts and remember the Giver of the ultimate gift. I see the evergreen boughs and remember that life goes on, even when bodies die.
- The music. For me, Christmas music embodies the wonder of the season. Songs old and new swell my heart with joy and gratitude for all that Christmas is.
These are all good and valid reasons for loving the Christmas season, but they are not the end of themselves. All of these things I love about Christmas are wrapped up in the main reason I love the Christmas season:
The lessons of Christmas are living and active. I love that each year some different aspect of Christmas comes alive to me as I meditate on the incarnation. One year I might be profoundly impacted by Joseph’s humility. Another year, by Mary’s faith. Maybe I glimpse again the wonder of the shepherds in the presence of the Savior of the World or the generosity of the wise men and their incredible persistence in their journey. Maybe I wonder again at God clothed in flesh. Or the physical circumstances of Christ’s birth. (Wouldn’t you, as Mary and Joseph, wonder what had gone wrong with the plan when there was no room in the inn?)
The Christmas story is the Word of God–literally. And that means that even the Christmas story, which we have heard over and over again, is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
So I love the Christmas season because beholding again the Word made flesh, dwelling among us (John 1:14) always changes me. Will you open your heart to the Word of God clothed as a newborn babe and let Him change you this season, too?