I’m working hard to get into the Christmas Spirit. After Easter, it is the second most significant Christian Holiday. I’m certainly not a bah humbug person, but our ever-changing culture has virtually reduced both days to chocolate bunnies and black Friday riots. I recall when Christmas specials on television networks were the norm. Bob Hope doing shows for the troops. In 1972, I went to one of those at Osan Air Base, Korea. Bing Crosby would have a special with his entire family. Maybe I’m just getting old. Or it could be that I’m holding on to something dear. The joy, peace, hope and love that arrived in the form of a child. Memories are always best when accompanied by that theme.
At this very moment, someone out there is asking, “Don’t you know that the celebration you call Christmas has pagan roots?” Or, they’re asking, “Don’t you know that Jesus probably was not born on December 25?” Bits of information apparently gained from their thorough research and study of the topic. Yes. Yes, I know all of that. But it’s not relevant to anything. Is it?
No one, not even our most accomplished and recognized Biblical scholars and historians can pinpoint the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Reverend Archbishop James Ussher, in Annals of the World: James Ussher’s Classic Survey of Ancient World History with CD-ROM first published in 1658, places the birth in the autumn of Julian Year 4709, 5 BC. Calendar errors were made calculating years way back when, making them off by about 4 years, so by today’s measurements in 1 AD, Jesus was already 4 years old. Generally, modern scholars tend to agree with the Archbishop. And, we know the Pagan winter solstice celebration was their welcoming the return of their sun god. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25 was in 336 AD during the time of Christian Roman Emperor Constantine. Pagan winter solstice sun god worship is not “the roots of Christmas.” So, there’s that.
For Christians, Christmas is not about rituals although some symbolism has become tradition. The important thing is that the reason for the season is not lost. It is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour. Christmas is celebrated across the world, sometimes in hiding, but still celebrated. In the United States we’ve started calling the day after Thanksgiving, black Friday. Do you know why it’s called black Friday? It’s not because of the mayhem that often begins before the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are washed. It’s because it’s the day of the year when many retailers move their numbers from red to black for the year.
Do you realize Americans will probably spend a trillion, yep, trillion dollars for Christmas? Have you ever considered what a trillion-dollar infusion does for our economy? For that matter, the world’s. An atheist once declared to me that even if there was no Christmas, something else as significant would replace it causing people to spend as much. He couldn’t give me an example. Not even the pagan sun god.
I’ve put the final cleaning on the yard and pruned what gets pruned this time of year. But this year there’ll be no decorations or tree. Suzie-Q and I will be spending valuable time with our children and beautiful granddaughters. For me, one of life’s most valuable lessons is that you do not get a do over on missed family time, especially time spent with children and grandchildren.
Any time with family is significantly more appealing than frozen fingers untangling and hanging lights. Not to mention the snazzy Santa’s sleigh and reindeer that normally grace the lawn down the hill a bit from the Nativity. The sleigh is probably not the dumbest choice of Christmas decorations. From my experience though it ranks right up near the top. The picture on the box looks great. Much different from what you pull out of the box along with the Chinese crafted assembly instructions.
The first year, using those poorly written instructions, I assembled it in the garage. It was warm in there. No cold December winds. No frozen fingers. There was, however, a small problem. The gold colored glitter that covered every inch of those reindeer ultimately covered me too. And most of the garage floor. Suzie-Q was not pleased. I couldn’t imagine why. I sort of felt like the Dad in Christmas Story when he brought home the fragile mannequin leg table lamp. Truthfully, she thought it looked nice sitting there on the lawn. What bothered her was the trail of gold glitter I tracked into the house. Coming from China it was probably toxic too. Now, by order of Household 6, it must be assembled outdoors and my laundry dropped in the garage. After I sweep and cut the shop vac loose on the garage floor. Ah, Christmas memories.
I’ve never been to the black Friday night fights. Getting punched in the face over a toaster oven is not my idea of Christmas spirit. I agonize over gifts. I’m not alone which probably speaks to the rise of the gift card industry.
If you do nothing else this year, share the true Christmas story with your children. The one that does not include Santa, the north pole, or reindeer. Find a Christmas Eve church service. Candlelight Christmas Eve services are special and the memory lasting.
Make some good memories this year. Remember the reason for the season.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place whileQuirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God
in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. Luke 2: 1-21 (NIV)
From Suzie-Q and me to you and yours. Have a blessed Christmas and may your wishes be fulfilled in the New Year.
© 2019 J. D. Pendry, American Freedom Journal, All Rights Reserved