Growing up, I was blessed with parents who taught me the differences between the three Christmases. Foremost is the Christmas of Faith. This is the religious Christmas that tells the Good News of God loving the world so much that He “became flesh and dwelt among us.” It is the biblical story of Mary and Joseph, angels and kings, shepherds and a baby who was called Jesus. It is the story of light coming into a world of darkness, of God’s Son born in a smelly stable, and humble people discovering the majesty of God’s grace. This is the Christmas of faithful believers—a holy day.
My parents also talked about what I call the Christmas of Sentimentalism. This is the secular Christmas. This is the Christmas of Santa and reindeers, snowmen and Scrooges, jingle bells and eggnog parties. Growing up in South Florida, we did not have a chimney, so we learned that Santa had to come in through the front door. This is the Christmas of the movies like “The Miracle on 34th Street” and TV shows like “Frosty the Snowman.” This is the Christmas of wistful songs like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Blue Christmas,” or comical songs like “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” This is the Christmas of our culture—a holiday.
The other Christmas, I learned, is the Christmas of Commercialism. This is the Christmas of money and more stuff. This is the Christmas of Black Fridays and now Cyber Mondays. This is the Christmas of “What do you want this year?” and “I just have to have . . .” This is the Christmas of “give and get,” of neighbors competing for the most decorated house, and debt and guilt for not buying/consuming/giving more presents. The three Christmases overlap and sometimes get so intertwined that the whole point of the Advent Season is lost altogether. That’s why people fight over words like “Christmas” versus “Holiday.” They do not know what they mean.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Tell the Good News. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.