“I hate Christmas.”
That’s what I told my mom a few days ago. We were driving home from a long day of hectic last-minute Christmas shopping, and a particularly annoying cheesy commercialized Christmas song had just come on the radio. “That’s sad,” my mom said.
A lot of people would cringe at such a statement, but I didn’t care. The whole thing was so revolting to me. Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of God coming to teach us about selfless love and save us all from ourselves, but the holiday seems too far gone to save. The whole present thing has gotten so distorted. Some of the songs are so agitating. The Hallmark original movies are ridiculous. The Hallmark cards are ridiculous. The selfishness, the materialism, and the chaos of Christmas churn my stomach like extra-frothy homemade egg nog (no offense to Josh and Amy).
That being said, now that it’s all done, let me sit back and tell you that I really love Christmas.
I love seeing all my relatives, even if it’s hectic. This year I managed to see my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and Michael’s family, and it wasn’t really stressful. I love the gifts that really mean something, like the “Dyslexics are teople poo” t-shirt from Michael (you had to be there), and the platypus t-shirt from Michael’s sister Sara, and the gifts my family gave me for some of my favorite non-profits (Ronald McDonald House and the Pregnancy Resource Center). I love the stories, like that Opa used a winepress instead of a meat grinder to make sausage because it was easier, and that once my cousin sleep-walked outside in the rain. I love how excited little kids get about everything. Santa showed up at Michael’s grandma’s to give out presents like every year. Santa looked a little bit like my boyfriend in a jolly red fatsuit, but his little cousins didn’t notice. They ran to the front door to try to see the reindeer as he left. That’s gotta make you smile.
And I love that I can look at all that stuff and understand how it’s meant to be a faint reflection of God’s love that came to us when Jesus was born. The church was packed on Christmas Eve as we sang:
“Good Christian, fear*, for sinners here, the silent Word is pleading.
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.
Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through, the Cross be borne, for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh, the Babe, the Son of Mary!”
*That’s the archaic fear, which means to regard with reverence. We don’t do enough of that anymore, which is probably why it’s archaic. I’m so glad that the Word was pleading for me. It’s such a powerful mix of awe, joy, and horror to think that God would become human fully knowing he’d get tortured to death for me, to take care of all my huge sins, little mess-ups and everything in between.
Taken seriously, Christmas really puts life in perspective. If Christians believe what we proclaim, how could we regard God with anything less than fear, reverence? I don’t want to usurp Christmas with Lent, but it makes me think of the song line: “Oh who am I, that for my sake my Lord would take frail flesh and die?” Who are we that Jesus Christ would take on flesh and be born a poor baby in a dirty barn, so he could grow up like us and walk with us and tell us the truth, and teach us to love? How cool is it to pray knowing that God understands you like a close friend- God grew up and lived in this world just like the rest of us. Amazing.
Merry Christmas! It was a good one.