The almost universal appeal of the Christmas season for observing Christians and many, many non-Christians, surely lies in the irresistible lure of beautiful Christmas decorations and the wide array of memorable Christmas music that tugs at our heartstrings during “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Perhaps the most potent carnal lure that draws even the reluctant to Christmas is the mounds of mouth-watering sweet candies, baked goods, tasty finger foods and delicious Christmas meals served at parties, receptions and family gatherings. Each Advent everyone in our world is bombarded with beautiful table settings in cookbooks, advertisements, magazine layouts, television shows and websites that depict endless presentations of scrumptious food in elegant settings that are capable of seducing anyone, no matter what their background.
Beyond those Christmas goodies that please the eye and appeal to the pallet, however, the Christmas traditions that touch the human heart go to the very core of what makes Christmas something people look forward to experiencing year after year.
People love being remembered when they receive beautiful Christmas cards. They appreciate being enveloped by the happy-to-see-you smiles and the warm hugs from family and friends. They enjoy their spirits being lifted by the fellowship shared at community potluck dinners and talent shows. They expect to be enthralled by nativity plays.
Youngsters seek the rush of excitement that school Christmas parties bring. Old and young anticipate attending the litany of Christmas concerts in school auditoriums, at churches and theatres. Party-goers invariably find themselves standing around the punch bowl, wishing one another well, with drinks and laughter, dressed in their Christmas gear. Special family gatherings create heartfelt joy and a true sense of belonging. Hearing and singing our favorite Christmas carols adds to the overall shared worship that spiritually knits us together in our collective Christmas reverence.
Through these rituals by which we experience the Christmas spirit, we express love, cheer, charity, merriment and shared joy – all gifts from God to His people as they proclaim His dominion “in all the earth.”
The Christmas spirit is embodied in every sincere and reverent tradition associated with the celebration of Christ’s birth. Believers should be cognizant of the important role that each Christmas tradition plays in delivering the Christmas spirit to our hearts and minds and spreading it in our homes and abroad. Every Christian Christmas act we perform edifies us as individuals and imparts the love and caring that Christmas is designed to embody.
No tradition is insignificant, because each one is part of a whole experience, with its own significance and impact.
For example, those who publish a family Christmas newsletter can exhibit love and a commitment to connectedness with their annual headlines and stories. One family’s newsletter may encourage other family members to publish their own, thereby expanding a tradition that leaves a written family Christmas history that will reach across generations and reinforce Christian family unity.
Traditions like family Christmas baking day, when the entire family bakes Christmas cookies and other homemade bake goods to box and give as Christmas presents, are great fun. Homemade edible gifts are instant delights with friends and family. Making and wrapping the gifts also draws the family together while making sweet Christmas memories.
Charitable giving has always been an important activity of Christians at Christmastime. Participating in Christmas charities contributes immensely to spreading the Christmas spirit to those who need special care. Church coat drives, making and delivering food baskets to the needy, visiting shut-ins, mounting Christmas toy drives and participating in a Christmas Day feeding ministry assure that everyone can participate in Christmas cheer.
The Christmas spirit is unique and cannot be counterfeited. The Christmas spirit is the byproduct of the worship of Jesus Christ.
Enemies of Christmas are attempting to expropriate Christian Christmas traditions. There are those in the media and advertising who seemingly admire Christian Christmas traditions but seek to de-Christianize them and make them generic acts done by “all people,” including non-Christians during Christmastime.
They do this by changing the names of Christmas traditions to “holiday” traditions. Daily during Advent, we hear news broadcasters and advertising voice-overs speaking of the “holiday spirit.”
But what holiday? From where does this “spirit” emanate? They twist themselves into a pretzel in order to avoid using the word “Christmas.” They also attempt to hijack and redirect “the spirit of giving” established by Christians into “holiday giving” for non-Christian purposes.
People, let’s not be deceived. There is no such thing as a “holiday spirit,” unless it comes out of a bottle. “Holiday spirit” is the counterfeit; the Christmas spirit is the real deal.
Christmas charities give in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Holiday giving” is controlled by those who wish to re-direct recognition and authority away from Christian works and laden glory upon their Christless activities.
Christians need to embrace all avenues by which the Christmas spirit is delivered to the world at Christmastime and should not take any aspect of Christmas charity work lightly.
Our primary objective as ambassadors of Christ should be to usher in the Christmas spirit and spread Christmas cheer in every manner available to us.
The world should hear our voices as we go Christmas caroling around our towns singing the praises of Jesus Christ. We, with family and friends, should prayerfully lift our voices together on Christmas Eve and sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.”
May I, the Christian Christmas Lady wish you and your families a happy Advent season and very merry Christmas!
Consider picking up “101 Ways to Have a Christian Christmas” and becoming a Christian Christmas activist today.
REMINDER: Please participate in The Christian Christmas Lady’s project to ask all the churches in America with bells to program them to play Christmas carols throughout 2010 Advent and to program them to ring at 12:00 midnight on Christmas Eve and at 12:00 noon on Christmas Day. Click here to read and forward a copy of my column, “Ring the Christmas Church Bells!”