Christmas Is Real
Ok, here it is, the post for which we’ve all been waiting. It was inevitable. I had to write this one, the one on the meaning of Christmas, the one on this the most glittery of holidays. Here goes…
I lose the meaning of Christmas periodically. You know that’s true, right. Between the confused greetings, the risk of offending, the overeating, then under eating, the front yard decorations that include Santa, Baby Jesus, a Menorah and for some reason a lot of other superfluous characters, I don’t know what we are celebrating anymore.
I watched my children sing in front of church today. They sang a classic, “Away in a manger”. There was a little girl dressed as Mary and there were shepherds galore. There were wise men and my son got knocked in the eye with a staff. It was beautiful and perfect and so magnificently traditional. I sat there sure that I had found the meaning of Christmas in that moment.
I realize that within each home we get to decide exactly how to present the Christmas story. We get to tell it just as we want with all the details and elaborations we find most important. But what about the moment the kids go outside and see the neighbors scary life-size grinch leering down at them. And how to explain to my children that some families tell their kids the story of Santa in the North Pole just as realistically as they do the birth story of Jesus in a manger. My son has taken to sparing other children’s feelings, nods his head wisely when the other kids talk about Santa bringing presents. “I don’t want them to be sad,” He tells me when I ask him why he follows along in the lie.
The disparities are numerous and dauntingly confusing to me much less to children whose reality we manipulate. We tell ourselves that we are being inclusive assuaging everyone’s feelings, when what we are really doing is hurting those of the ones that trust us the most.
Yes, everyone has a right to their own reality but at the end of the day there is right. And our kids need to know that and hear it from our mouths. They need to know that other people believe differently than we do but that doesn’t make it ok for us. It is just that, different.
So, while others may be celebrating every version of holiday, let’s make sure it is clear to those that matter to us that what we celebrate is Christmas, the birth of a baby that meant everything to us. A baby that still matters today and isn’t going to stop mattering tomorrow just because sometimes we forget Him while getting lost in the tinkling and the glittering and the noise.