Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Heart of Christmas

I love Christmas! I love celebrating! I love the thrill in the air. The magic. The wonder. The excitment and joy. I love all the festivities. Breakfast with Santa, train rides, a visit with Santa, fun times with friends and family, the movie Frozen, Christmas cookies with Nana, Christmas shopping for the family, and a day to just rest and be at home and enjoy our own familiy time. It causes me to pause and give thanks. The blessings abound and my heart is full, and I'm thankful.

There's a certain joy in the air and I wonder about this. The other day someone told me her daughter asked if she believed in Santa. Her response was that she believes Santa is the spirit of Christmas. I understand the wonder from a child's point of view, but her response got me thinking. Is jolly ol' Saint Nick the embodiment of Christmas joy and cheer? Can one man be the cause for peace on earth and goodwill toward men? I believe so...but I don't believe it's Santa.

The truth is I never believed in Santa so the "magic" has always been something different for me. I don't have a devastating story to tell about the year I found out the whole thing was a lie, or the trauma I endured when I caught my parents slipping the presents under the tree. There are no pictures of me with Santa. I'm not kidding.

You see, I was the kid who was scared of Santa. Petrified. Not just the kids you see screaming in photos. Worse. I HATED SANTA. I know this is blasphemy to some of you but please don't judge. I laugh in the face of spiders. I rather enjoy public speaking. But Santa...just the thought brings a shudder.  I was so scared that when we went to the mall my parents had to avoid any part that would include the monster in red so as to prevent a meltdown that would inevitably occur. So, they did what any normal parents would do. They told me he wasn't real. That was it. That was all I needed to hear to overcome my fear of the jolly bearded giant who used to torment me. It was powerful knowledge, really, because it armed me with the confidence to boldly walk by Santa and his set and exclaim, "I'm not scared of you, I know you're fake." Nevermind me dashing the hopes and dreams of any unsuspecting child who might be waiting in line for their beloved turn on his lap. 

The whole idea of Santa was never something I encouraged or discouraged with E. I decided to let him  decide on his own. Of course you know, not only does he believe in Santa but also his elf Jokey. Let me also add - Jokey has safely made his way to our new home, albeit a little bigger, more plush version that had to be re-bought, um, sent, from Hallmark - a.k.a. the North Pole. Somehow he's none the wiser because Jokey is R.E.A.L. to him. And he takes him EVERYWHERE. Not kidding. In fact, he even took him to see Santa. 
I admit, this world of belief is a little new to me but witnessing the wonderment from a child's point of view does have its element of mystery and magic...

At the end of everyday I ask E some version of "What was your favorite part about today?" or "What was something you're thankful for today?" So in the midst of ALL THIS CELEBRATING I wanted to make sure we hadn't missed it. I decided to ask a new question, "Why do we celebrate Christmas?" He never looked up from twirling Jokey around the banister but firmly answered, "Because of Jesus." <Heartmelt> 

It's more than a cliche. It's more than just a phrase. It's more than just the "appropriate" answer. It's the truth. It is the absolute ONLY reason for this season. It's the only reason we can have hope, joy, excitement, or anything that comes close to peace and goodwill. Even more, GOD'S will and all that He wants to bless us with in our lives. 

There IS One responsible for the Spirit of Christmas, and I'm sorry to unravel your belief in Santa, but it's not him. The iconic image of Christmas isn't a rosy-cheeked snow-white bearded man. It's the beginning of the story that brought salvation; crimson red that flowed from the cross to wash us white as snow. The decorated branches with glistening lights, the reminder of the rugged tree trunks nailed together, the cross. The magic of Christmas is the miracle that came to earth - the miracle of a virgin birth. The celebration should be in light of the eternal gift we've been given. 

What is it about trimming the tree, decking the halls, and the hustle and bustle? What is the mystery this season brings about? What's more, how can someone go full-throttle into celebrating the season and yet miss it? Miss Him? There's a wonder...

No matter how much we decorate, celebrate, wrap, trim, splurge or enjoy, I want to make sure the answer to "Why we celebrate Christmas" is always "Because of Jesus." Because truthfully, without Him, celebrating is the least of our worries. There would be no reason for life itself aside for the gift of eternal life He came to give. The Word became flesh. Every aspect of God-ness wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Taking the very form of man and becoming like us in human form to ultimately save our eternal souls. 

Because of Jesus. Only Jesus. The magic of Christmas. The heartbeat of One who came to save the world. 


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