Christmas is coming! I realize that many people are offended by Christmas and the hoopla surrounding it. It is not just people of other religions and the non-religious who are offended. Plenty of Christians believe that celebrating Christmas is sinful. They believe that it is a pagan holiday. They believe that the Church focuses only on the weakest symbols of Jesus—as a baby or crucified. They believe that materialism has stolen the focus and the holiday lacks meaning for them. Some feel that by elevating one day over another they are engaging in idolatry. I know because I was raised that way.
My family had a troubled relationship with Christmas. When we had trees, a feeling of guilt came along with them. After my mother left, Christmas ended at my house. It was not until I was married and having my own children that I was reintroduced to Christmas. My husband and I prayerfully considered the traditions we wanted to raise our family in. We chose Christmas. While I respect those who thoughtfully reject celebrating Christmas, for me celebrating it is the most God honoring thing I can do. I am thankful for my heritage because not having those traditions in my background allowed me to really value and enjoy them.
I remember the first time I sang, “Joy to the World” as an adult. (We did not sing Christmas carols in my childhood home.) I was very surprised to find that it was a worship song and a triumphant one at that. It was beautiful and set to high quality music. I started listening to all the classic carols—“O Holy Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” I could not imagine a more wonderful way to honor God than to sing these amazing songs.
When the meaning of Christmas hits you for the first time as an adult, it is overpowering. The simple and profound idea of God incarnate in order to save humanity fills the soul. The jubilation must be expressed in some outlet. Gifts, song, celebration are what that event calls for. It is a normal human response to experiencing God. So as we encounter this next Holiday season, may you be touched by God.
If you find yourself wanting something to listen to over the busy holiday season, consider Learn French Fast. It is a French language course, and it has a holiday section. You can compare how the French celebrate Christmas with how Americans do.