Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas--Sacred? Secular? Sacrelar?

Christmas. It's the most wonderful time of the year. I love Christmas, and I always have. I love gifts. I love snow. I love old Christmas movies like Scrooge, Meet Me in St. Louis, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, and White Christmas. I love Christmas music from nearly everyone from Elvis to Handel. (This morning, Brett and I were listening to REO Speedwagon do "Children Go Where I Send Thee", which was actually pretty rockin' good...cause we heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who...never mind).

When I was a kid, my parents did Christmas BIG. In our house, Santa not only brought the gifts but the tree, too! And we knew Santa had arrived because we saw a light flash across our windows AND we heard him jingling and ho-ho-ho-ing across our roof. He always left a note by the half-eaten plate of cookies. It was a wonderful, magical time of year.

So add to the list of things I love about Christmas, Santa Claus.

But wait. Did I mention I was raised in a Christian home, where my family loved the Lord and lived the Gospel? It was news to me when I became an adult that Christmas is actually a holiday infused with contention. Surround yourself with serious believers, and you are soon to discover, sadly, that we're a pretty uptight bunch. And opinionated, too.

First, there are those who refuse to acknowledge anything sacred whatsoever about Christmas. These are believers who can be divided into two groups: one who doesn't celebrate it at all and one who celebrates Christmas only as a secular holiday. Both of these groups tell me, "Where the Bible is silent, we must be silent, too."

Then there is the group that refuses to acknowledge anything secular about Christmas. Santa is a lie from the Pit of Hell sent to distract us from the true meaning of Christmas. Frosty and Rudolph make it difficult for our children to tell the difference between fairy tales and the real supernatural world. (That argument is an Epic Fail--and I am the counterexample.) The Christmas tree is pagan at best, phallic at worst.

Really? Phallic?!?!

I think my mother-in-law had the best insight into this mess: Christmas is really the collision of two holidays all happening on one day. What wisdom from this great lady whom I love and respect. And our family observes both. We do Santa, and we do him big: milk and cookies, notes from Santa, stomping across the roof after midnight on Christmas Eve(well, not in a two-story)...because I wouldn't dream of depriving my children of the magic of childhood. But we observe the Incarnation, not as a formal holiday on one day but all year long...because I wouldn't dream of depriving my children of the Gospel.

This year, as I rock around the pagan symbol and wait for Santa Claus to come to town, I wish all my dear, beautiful friends a Merry Christmas...and hope your boxers aren't getting in a bunch in the process. No matter how we differ regarding December 25th, I love you all.

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