It’s the most wonderful time of the year they say. People are supposedly feeling the joy of Christmas and spirits full of service, love, and gratitude. If that is so, why are there so many rude, impatient shoppers at the department stores? Why are there cranky travelers in the airports at every terminal? Why are there unthankful children demanding certain toys, and a media that not only encourages them to do so, but teaches them to? Why are there stressed out mamas? And why are there worried dads distressed while looking at their account balance when all they want to do is put smiles on their children’s faces?
It’s so easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The last thing anyone wants to be is so stressed out to the point of being emotionally and physically drained. It is nearly natural to feel as though there are holiday standards that we are expected to meet. We want the home to feel cozy and festive with a beautiful, ornamentally decorated tree. We hope that the outside of our house will draw other families to come admire the twinkling lights and inflatable snowmen. We want our children to not feel like Santa loves other children in other families more based off of the amount of gifts received. And most importantly, while we may do all these things with good intentions of our hearts, we may worry over making sure that above all, we remember the true reason of the season – Christ.
We give our best attempt at balancing the festivities while keeping our Savior at the root of it all, but that in itself can stimulate stress. I don’t consider it as stress in the way of being a burden, but more of am I doing enough? Are my kids (futuristic ones, but I’m building traditions that they will live with as well) learning that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and that it is the most important of it all? Am I teaching them that it is more exciting to visit the lone elderly and feed the homeless than to write letters to Santa? Am I keeping my heart in the right state of constant worship and my mind focused on the nativity rather than the mall?
So while the world chalks up the holiday season in a way that should have never meant to replace the precious, holy reason for it all, we can keep Christ in our Christmas and in our homes. I am a firm believer than I can righteously celebrate just about anything as long as my heart is in the right place. Despite the history behind it, if my daughter wants to innocently dress up as a princess on Halloween, I do not think that she is celebrating a devilish holiday in any way. If my family wants to gather around in love and singing while decorating a Christmas tree, I do not think that we are worshipping pagan gods. I love how a popular American singer and actor, Donny Osmond, put it when he was asked about his feelings of certain holidays. He mentioned that evil can lurk anywhere, but if we keep Christ the center of our lives, all of our activities will naturally be Christ-centered (link leads to Osmond’s input).
Christmas was obviously derived from Christ, hence the name, but there is so much more meaning in Christmas that leads toward Christ. Focusing on the following symbols really helps me look at all of the Christmas spirit with a better perspective and one that truly keeps Christ in Christmas.
- Lights – The most abundant Christmas decoration in my opinion is light. Whether you’re in your home, the neighborhood, or the mall, there are lights everywhere you turn. It is seemingly fitting, because Jesus is “the LIGHT of the world.”
- Christmas Tree – The Christmas tree is traditionally an evergreen tree. Evergreen trees are alive and green year round. They represent eternal life. Because of Christ, we have eternal life. Even though we have a mortal death, it is not the end, we will have life in Heaven. Also like an evergreen tree, we can still flourish and see the sunshine, even in our coldest, darkest months.
- The star – When Jesus was born, a star rose in the sky, bright enough for people to see all over the earth. It proclaimed that the Messiah was born. We top our trees with the star, because the nativity star in the sky topped the event of why we even have Christmas.
- Christmas Colors – Red, Green, White – Red represents the blood Christ shed for us on the cross. Green represents the Garden of Gethsemane where He suffered for our sins. White represents cleanliness and the purity of Christ. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can repent and become clean and pure again.
- Candy Cane – the cane/staff that a shepherd uses to guide his flock. The most obvious symbolism is the shepherds visited the new baby Jesus. There’s also symbolism that Christ is the “good shepherd,” He is our shepherd, and He guides us as His flock.
- Stocking – Sometimes we may feel empty and limp like a sock. But we are so blessed with a fullness of love when allowing our Savior into our lives. He fills us.
- Ribbon – “Like ribbons wrapped and tied with love, reminding us of home above, she wrapped him up in swaddling white, and held him safe throughout the night” – The Symbols of Christmas. Not only does ribbon represent the love Mary had for her son, but ribbon represents the tie we have with heaven during this holy Christmastime.
- Snowman/Winter – Though our skins be as scarlet, they can become white as snow because of Jesus. Snow also comes along with the season of Winter. Winter follows Fall. In the Fall everything dies – plants, flowers, trees, etc. Our spirits can suffer and wilt, but joy cometh in the morning. Because of our Savior, we can have a blanket of peace and assurance come over us – just like a beautiful, blanket of fresh snow covers the barren earth.
- Christmas Bells – Bells, and all other Christmas music, represent the song that flooded the earth at the time of Christ’s birth. Angels sang songs of praise and joy.
- Angels – Angel’s announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds.
- Bethlehem – translates to “Bet lehem” in Hebrew, meaning “the House of Bread.” Jesus is “the Bread of Life” and how amazingly symbolic is it that He was born in “the House of Bread.”
- Gifts – possibly the most misunderstood Christmas tradition. Christmas is not about Santa and the presents he brings. The 3 wise men brought gifts to Baby Jesus when He was born. We receive gifts on Christmas, because when Jesus Christ was born, our Heavenly Father had given us the greatest gift He could ever give us, a Savior. Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift.
I pray that we may all take a step back from the hustle and bustle and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. In just a week, it will all be over…until next year! We all have our moments of feeling a little bit like the Grinch, so as the Grinch says…
“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”