Christmas. That blessed time of year when families come together, joy spreads, trees glitter with lights, children anticipate receiving the gifts they’ve been wanting for months, festive cookie recipes come out of the box and songs are sung by voices all over the world.
Christmas. The celebration of Jesus’ birth so many years ago; the start of a life that would radically change the world; the day when we should look to those around us.
Christmas isn’t just a day, though. It’s a season, a feeling, a thought process that brings us to the realisation that we are small parts of a much larger picture. In the middle of the hustle and bustle, shopping, wrapping, giving, sharing, laughing and caring are we focusing on the right part of the season? Where are our hearts?
It’s so easy to see only the ‘commercial’ side of this holiday. Stores go all-out tempting you with decorations, food, gifts and stuff that you don’t actually need. We’re bombarded with glitz and glam, sparkle and dazzle, music and cheers. There’s so much going on that we lose sight of what Christmas is actually about.
As a Christian, I grew up celebrating the joy of Jesus Christ’s birth. Yes, Christmas included pretty lights, special food and gifts, but those were sides to the main reason for celebration. Without this day, the rest of my faith wouldn’t mean anything. Christ had to come to earth as a man to physically die for our sins and that started with His birth.
Then I moved overseas to a country where Christmas seems to have an entirely different meaning. Without American Thanksgiving at the end of November, stores jump right into Christmas shortly after Halloween. They start pushing ads and selling ‘Christmas’ by the middle of November. Thoughts of Santa, sales, presents and decorations bombard you from every direction.
On the surface, Christ has very little presence during Christmas in Ireland. Of all the seasonal cards, maybe two or three will have a nativity or depiction of Christ. So-called advent calendars are nothing more than a calendar with treats inside. You’ll see more flyers for the lighting of the town Christmas lights than for Christmas Eve or Day services. The true meaning of Christmas is becoming more lost with each year and generation.
I’ll readily admit that I get caught up in the show and appearance of Christmas. I’ll go to the tree lighting ceremony. I’ll gush over the twinkle lights at the local coffee shop. I’ll worry about finding that ‘perfect gift’ for my family. Everything around me demands my attention while my Lord and Saviour quietly sits in the background, waiting for me to tune out the noise.
We’re losing sight of the truth. With each new generation, more of the gospel is being lost. Within three generations (if Christ hasn’t returned by then), I wouldn’t be surprised if Christmas is simply a day of gifts, food and family. Christ and His mission on Earth won’t even be remembered. What a sad day it will be when there’s no hope, joy, peace or love associated with this holiday. It will be a commercial holiday of fluff and bother.
Christmas is about Christ. There’s a great song by a group called Go Fish that talks about this very idea. The chorus goes like this:
“It’s called Christmas. What more can I say? It’s about the birth of Christ, and you can’t take that away. You can call it something else, but that’s not what it will be. It’s called Christmas, with a capital ‘C’.”
It’s as easy as that. No matter what goes on in the stores, no matter how many strings of lights you put up, even if you try to say ‘happy holidays’ instead, the truth remains the same. Christmas is about Christ, and He is the only reason for the season that matters. Let us remember that as we approach Christmas.
Hannah (USA) has been serving as OM Ireland's journalist for two years. A trained writer, she loves sharing stories of people and their God-inspired life moments. She believes that everyone has a story worth telling, and it's a true joy to be the one to tell them.