Have you noticed how Christmas is becoming more and more intimidating to unbelievers? Most magazines refer to the “holidays,” afraid to mention Christmas by name. This is not because the world thinks Christmas is irrelevant, but its power and potency scares them. That’s why they keep moving away from saying “Merry Christmas” to saying limp-noodle things like “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.”
But the world can no more stop Christmas from happening than they can prevent the sunrise or the rain. Christmas is coming, like it or not. And the fact that the world is getting more and more annoyed by Christmas is a good sign that we are doing something right. I say, let’s ratchet things up a bit. More singing. More gift-giving. More lights. More sugar cookies and (as my husband says) more fudge!
We might wonder how something as harmless as Christmas could be so intimidating to the unbelievers. But asking that question reveals that we don’t yet understand Christmas ourselves. God becoming a baby and being born in a manger in Bethlehem and announcing it to shepherds via angels singing in the sky is a spectacular story. It is our story and we should never tire of telling it, singing about it, and reminding one another of it with cards and gifts and fat stockings. This is OUR story. God has given this to us, and this story has changed the world forever.
Sometimes Christians complain that Christmas is too commercial. But why should it bother us to see the world celebrating our holiday in a worldly way? They can’t help it. Rather, we should chuckle with delight that “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is playing over the speakers in the grocery store and “Joy to the World” is going full blast in the aisles at WalMart.
C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful essay about this called “Christmas and Xmas” which you can find in God in the Dock. In it he describes the differences between the two celebrations, and the inconvenience that results from them being held on the same day.
Whenever the unbelievers try to ban Christmas by passing rules or laws about it, it only makes them look bad. In all the best stories, it is never the good guys who are trying to ban Christmas. It’s always the bad guys, the Grinch or Scrooge or the White Witch in Narnia where she has made it “always winter and never Christmas.”
With so much of a Christian heritage wrapped up in the celebration of Christmas, we need to get on the stick and start learning, recovering, reviving, restoring, and reforming our Christmas traditions. Christmas is for us and for our children: its music, customs, feasting, special foods, and carols, as well as our funny practice of stringing lights all over our houses and hauling trees indoors and decorating them and putting presents under them. In all of its glory, Christmas is just a shadow of what God has prepared for us in heaven.
And all the world cannot legislate Christmas away. It is here to stay. The angels announced it, the shepherds heard it, and Mary and Joseph beheld Christmas. Joy to the World!