I can’t decide whether I’m looking forward to Christmas or dreading it. The parties, excitement, decorations, music, and family gatherings are all fun, but is that really what Christmas is about?
I ask my boys, “Hey, guys, what’s the true meaning of Christmas?” They know how to give me the Sunday school answer. But for them and for me and for most of us, we do little more than nod to the baby in the manger. Maybe we take a few hours away from the chaos to worship, but then we are back to craziness of the season.
A more honest answer would be the one my son gave me when he was four: “Christmas is when Santa Claus asked Jesus into his heart.” The sacred and secular are irrevocably intertwined. As Christians, we try to invite baby Jesus to the party, hoping he is honored in the midst of it all.
This plays out in my own family Christmas. We go to a Christmas Eve service followed by a festive family dinner. Christmas morning begins with the boys wondering when they can open presents. Before anyone touches a gift, we read Luke 2 as a family and spend a few moments in prayer. But who am I kidding? It feels like I’m trying to squeeze some recognition of Jesus into a season that has little to do with him. If Jesus is the King of Kings, celebrating his birth certainly deserves more than an obligatory nod before we dive into gifts.1