Through the years we’ve celebrated “Christmastime” many different ways — some years a little, some years more. A family tradition here and a family tradition there, but no set (read: unchangeable) tradition. I think this comes from a mixed reaction to cultural influence/cultural traditions. It also comes from an ongoing inner debate: should believers celebrate Christmas? We’d immediately say: Yes, we should celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but that’s not really the question when people ask: should Christians celebrate “Christmas.” They’re asking: should Christians celebrate the twisted mix of truth and tradition, pagan and sacred. The question opens a quagmire of debate. What’s pagan, what’s tradition, what’s the socioeconomic influence, what’s the reason, what’s reality, what’s Scriptural, what’s not… whatsamattah whiddit anyway?
We met friends who ignored the year end “holiday” and stay completely out of stores, etc., much like I totally ignore the event at the end of October. And stay out of stores, etc.
We just did what we’d always done… our home looked like a lot of homes that were ♪♫ beginning to look ♫ a lot ♪♫ like Christmas…
And then we had a baby girl born on Christmas Day…
And then we met more friends who love the wonder of the Christmas and the glorious celebration, music, prayers and rejoicing over the Greatest Gift ever Given.
We’ve continued growing older. So have our children. So has our baby girl, born on Christmas Day.
And then we met more friends who didn’t simply ignore the whole year end events, but hotly debated the atrocity of participation in anything remotely associated with the pagan rituals.
And then we met more friends who celebrated a little.
And then we met more friends who celebrated a lot.
And then we met more friends who shuddered at the thought.
So… one year we exchanged only homemade gifts. Another year, none. Another year, we played the “present game” where a pile of assorted gifts was placed in the center of the room encircled by seats where we sat passing around a gift until the time was called and each could keep or trade away their little gift. Another year, none.
Through all the years we’ve made cookies and treats and our annual most-special family dinner. And celebrate the baby girl’s birthday.
Then, last year, our daughter-in-law suggested we “draw names” for gift giving (according to the agreed upon theme). We’d never done this before. I think some [of us] balked at the idea – some wondered what papa thought(!!). But then as we, each one, thought about and planned and shopped for the person whose name we’d drawn, the thrill of finding just the right present seemed to add to the joy of the celebration of the birth of our Lord.
As we come to this “Christmastime” season… we do rejoice at the wonder of the Greatest Gift ever Given. We read and reread every Christmas letter we receive. We hang up every photograph we receive. We have plans for baking special treats and cut-out cookies to decorate… plans for Christmas candies to make and for cutting out snowflakes and gathering greens for the ledges where the red and white pillar candles will be placed. We have printed music for singing around the piano. We have nuts for cracking and a most-special dinner to plan and prepare.
We have another birthday to celebrate… for the little baby born to us on Christmas Day.
But… most of all, we rejoice over the birth of the Greatest Gift ever Given.