I’ve discovered a color by number app on my electronic tablet and I blush to admit I’m hooked. I’m having so much fun celebrating Christmas by finding and coloring the holiday pictures. But as I browse through the pictures, trying to choose my next project. I’ve noticed something. Not one picture is about the birth of Jesus or has the religious symbols we associate with the celebration of Christmas. The site contains several Hanukkah pictures with a Menorah, but no nativities, angels, or churches.
My Color By Number Holiday Scenes
- Snow scenes
- Winter sports
- Christmas goodies
- Decorative red, green, and yellow mandalas
- Santa Claus
- Happy families
- More snow pictures
Christmas conjures up images of buying, giving and receiving presents, getting together with family, indoor and outdoor decorations, baking cookies, sending letters to Santa, catching crystalline snowflakes on the tips of our gloved fingertips, and listening to once-a-year songs. It makes us all feel merry and bright and transported to a serene, magical world.
If an outsider observed our joyous celebration, wouldn’t it be understandable if that person asked, “What are you celebrating?” And if someone didn’t include the birth of Jesus in their celebration, what would be their answer?
Why are we doing this?
Now, my coloring app’s exclusion of pictures about the birth of Jesus does not surprise me. That’s the way our post-Christian society looks at Christmas. Santa replaced Jesus years ago. I particularly notice the lack of religious emphasis from the Christmas songs secular radio stations choose to play. Oh, occasionally, you’ll hear Josh Groban or Carrie Underwood singing “Oh Holy Night,” but a vast majority of the songs have nothing to do with any religious significance. For whatever reason, the backdrop of Christmas has slipped to the side.
What does Christmas represent as a holiday without the mention of Jesus’ birth? Some people want to change “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” but what am I supposed to be happy about? And if those things are taken from me, can I still be happy?
Christmas just won’t be Christmas without . . .
If Christmas is nothing more than these outer trapping, what would it be those things were left out of our celebration? What would your reaction be if you couldn’t have those trimmings and traditions you consider an essential part of your Christmas celebration?Would Christmas no longer be the same? If we can’t have certain parts of Christmas, shall we just cancel Christmas?
Is Christmas no longer Christmas if:
- Your family moves during the month of December and you can’t put up your usual amount of decorations?
- A family member on hospice passes away the last week of December?
- Your family hits a financial crisis, and you can’t afford to give each other gifts?
- You’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes and the doctor warns about all those dreaded carbohydrates in Christmas cookies?
- You live in a climate that sees one fleck of snow every six years and your neighbors would laugh if you turned on your gas fireplace instead of the grill for a barbecue? Dear me, the people in Aussie land can’t possibly have a decent Christmas without one Frosty the Snowman—right?
- A national pandemic sweeps across the country, keeping families from gathering together? Whoops, now I’m getting personal!
What part of Christmas makes it Christmas for you? If you can’t have snow, wreaths, Christmas cookies, family dinners or some other aspect of Christmas that you cherish, would you still be able to celebrate Christmas? Will it still be a holly jolly Christmas?
I know how I would answer that as a Christian, but I wonder how those who don’t hold tightly to the Christian faith would respond.
What are YOU celebrating this Christmas?
Surely a holiday has to be more than pretty lights, gingerbread houses, a pretend friend who gives gifts, and cute snowmen.To me, a focus on only the outer trappings of Christmas sounds so empty. Depressing.
But if you use all those traditional props to celebrate the greatest event of all history, then it becomes special.
There’s a reason and a motive to pull out all the stops and fill the season with joy, joy, and more joy. And if the life stuff happens so you can’t do what you’ve always done, you’ll find other ways to celebrate. The joy and excitement you have over what God did that silent starry night will compel you to find any possible way to honor the God who would do such a marvelous thing.
If those things you’ve always done are limited or prohibited, you’ll still celebrate.
Because celebration is a form of worship.
So be careful. If you’re feeling blue this year because you can’t decorate as much, eat what you want, be with family, or attend the parties, music programs, or even, gasp, Christmas eve services, evaluate your focus: are you celebrating the trappings themselves or the One they are meant to honor?
If you don’t see Christmas as a day to honor the Christ who came to this earth as a baby, I want to challenge you: what are you celebrating? Do you still have something to celebrate if you can’t do what you’ve always done? And if the restrictions are making the holiday seem empty and meaningless, I invite you to fill the void with the beautiful story the beautiful story the Bible says angelic beings announced to some isolated shepherds one night long ago.
And if you are a Christ follower, don’t get despondent when the season doesn’t live up to your expectations. Dig in your heels and determine to find other ways to celebrate Christmas. Because the birth of Jesus is worth whatever kind of celebration you can manage.