I’m looking out the window at the new year getting ready to start. From my vantage point inside my cozy apartment it does not look like the seventeen degrees my computer is reporting for Bentonville this morning. Same old bare trees, green and brown grass, and piles of dry leaves blown against the fences.
In a few days I will store away my Christmas memorabilia until next year’s calendar dictates the time to bring it back out again.
Back to normal.
I remember a friend years ago telling me her little boy, two or three years old, just about broke his heart crying when they took down the Christmas tree. I guess he had assumed it was the “new normal.”
So here’s what I think.
It is unfortunate that commerce has done its best to usurp the season and make it about greed, but before this all got out of hand there was something else there. There still is. The hopeful “Spirit of Christmas” struggling to stay alive under all the ads for Black Friday and After Christmas sales.
At least we come around every year to a season when we remind each other to try to do something good for our neighbors, where we try to make at least a fleeting connection with family and friends, some who might otherwise drift away altogether.
All the sparkling lights and music and performances of A Christmas Carol come out, and they make us look. We at least tell ourselves stories about how hearts can soften and we can open our eyes and see what really matters.
I don’t think anyone has “taken Christ out of Christmas.”
Everyone who wants to celebrate the birth of Christ does it. The church holiday has not been erased or forgotten or forbidden. It shines on for anyone who wants to to participate. Most Christians that I am aware of celebrate Christmas both religiously and in the secular fashion.
And that is fine. It doesn’t narrow the field, it expands it. Goodwill towards everyone, in and out of church.
Wasn’t that Christ’s message?