Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas?

I’m a Christian. I take my Christianity seriously. Another thing I take seriously is Christmas.

I love Christmas. I love the smell of the Christmas tree, how it fills the whole house. I love waking up to Christmas lights in the house. They make it so much easier to get out of bed on a dreary December morning. Christmas carols everywhere you go. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas. Even my beige, suburban street looks beautiful with the Christmas lights up. I love Christmas shopping. I love wrapping gifts, giving gifts, and (yes, I’ll admit it) getting gifts. Santa Claus. Cranberry bread, fudge, Sees candy, egg nog. Peppermint mochas in red Christmas cups. What is not to love?

But, you see, none of this stuff has anything to do with Christ. And, I am okay with that. Jesus is not the reason for the season. Not really. He never was. No more or less than he was the reason for summer or Wednesday-before-last, and I could make the argument that he was both, but that's for another day.

Most scholars agree that Jesus was born in the spring. And in any event, there is no biblical imperative to celebrate Christ’s birthday. There are no birthday celebrations at all in the bible. Christmas only became Christmas so that converts to the early Roman church could keep their traditional winter solstice celebrations. I can imagine such feasts would have been hard for early Christians to part with. Since man left the garden they have been finding ways to break up the boredom of winter (and the backbreaking labor of the rest of the year) with feast days. Christ’s promises are awesome, but we are human, and sometimes, faced with the daily grind, heaven seems far away.

So, I am prepared to just let go and let Santa. Let’s all celebrate the secular holiday of good cheer and consumerism. Within reason of course. I am not encouraging celebration to the point of gluttony and sloth. That is what Thanksgiving and New Years Eve are for.

But, I have kids. So, this is where I am conflicted. Most of the world is clinging to the pretense that this is a Christian holiday. Not so much the non-observant Buddhists in Japan singing carol-karaoke in polyester Santa suits, but most of the people in the western world. So, I must too.

I am trying to teach my children the “true meaning of Christmas” without my cynicism over the true "true meaning of Christmas" showing through. Luckily, I have years of practice at stifling myself. Most of them unsuccessful, but at least I have been practicing. And, I also have this. I try to teach my children the true meaning of Christmas everyday. Everyday belongs to Him. So, it is that upon which I will focus. The True Meaning of Christ.


  1. Hi Tracey. I love the title of your Nov. 30 post. It took me a second to get it, and I laughed when I did!

    Re: Christmas. Well, I suppose Christmas is one of those things that most people can celebrate together no matter what they place their faith in. I guess that's what makes it a favourite of the human race. I carry on with my family religious traditions every year, all of which are very beautiful. My dear mom told me that God wants us to be happy, and I think Christmas is a gift to us all!
    We are far from family and don't care to drive those snowy mountain passes this time of year to get to them, so for the past few years we have been celebrating with some friends who happen to be atheists (We are Catholic). They wholeheartedly embrace Christmas as a favourite winter holiday and admit that no science can explain the magic of it all!