If I asked you to describe what the true meaning of Christmas is … what would be your reply? As a thought experiment, I did ask, and below is a fair and an aged categorized review of those responses:
For ages 56 – 100 yrs:
- Attending Christmas Mass and singing church choir carols.
- Christmas is about a magical moment like when my grandchildren open their gifts then run across the room to hug Paw Paw and Mam Maw.
- Playing Secret Santa to those less fortunate is what Christmas is all about.
- Baking and decorating cookies and sipping eggnog.
- Celebrating Christ’s birth (100 yrs old).
- Watching Classic Movies, A Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Meet Me In St. Louis.
- Walking in the first snowfall, mittens, and scarf, all while listening to my created Christmas Album on wireless Bluetooth, my grandchild showed me how to do it.
- Bringing my parent home for the day from the assisted living center to share Christmas dinner with the family.
- Christmas lights twinkling, Christmas album in background, hot chocolate close by, a crackling fire, wrapping the gift you picked out special, and stockings hung high is the Christmas spirit.
- Christmas season means I will be writing Christmas checks to my adult children.
- Visiting my parent’s or spouse’s gravesite.
- Christmas means staying busy, and around friends and family, so you do not fall into despair over those who passed and are missed.
For ages 18 – 55 yrs:
- The first sip of Starbucks Peppermint Mocha coffee is Christmas to me.
- Christmas means vacation or time off from work. Ski Slopes or Vegas preferred.
- This time of year means being obsessed with Pinterest trends so I can choose the right holiday décor then post my “Christmas Home Tour” on YouTube.
- Dysfunctional holiday dinner at my parents, where all my family gather and stuff ourselves and watch football feels like Christmas.
- It isn’t Christmas till you start re-gifting and watching Hallmark Holiday Movies.
- Christmas means my social calendar will be full up with holiday parties and my credit card, too, finding those perfect gifts.
- Black Friday sales.
- Sending Christmas cards out on time.
- Finding the perfect ugly Christmas sweater.
- Divorce/split Christmas drop-offs of kids and multiple family dinners means it must be Christmas.
- It is the time of year I feel most alone and sad (22 yrs old).
- When you spend hours calling friends and family to tell them you miss and love them while checking that the gift you sent arrived, Christmas is when you spend hours calling friends and family.
For ages 3 – 17 yrs:
- Going with my family to pick out this year’s Christmas Tree and decorating it.
- Sitting on Santa’s lap and reading my Christmas list.
- Trying to keep my eyes open to hear “Santa’s Sleigh Bells” and waking up before anyone else in the house to see if all the “Christmas Cookies” were eaten.
- The way my grandmother smells while I snuggle in her arms and coat on Christmas Eve at Midnight Mass, trying to stay asleep as she rubs my back (5 yrs old)
- The time of year when Mom and Dad look happy, laughing, smiling, and getting along, is what I call a Christmas miracle.
- Baby Jesus’s birth in a manger.
- First snow and building a snowman with the other families on our block.
- Watching Christmas Classics like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Mr. Grinch, A Christmas Story, and Frosty the Snowman.
- Going through my coats to donate for those who do not have one and wrapping presents for kids I do not know.
- Dad letting us decorate the car with a wreath and blinking lights and the dog with a blinking sweater to spread holiday cheer. Oh, and Dad claiming he loves his tie, we give him every year.
- Cooking and baking with my mom for a family celebration.
- Thinking about those people I love and miss who no longer are in my life. Remembering how much they meant to me is what it means to celebrate Christmas.
So there may have been some confusion as most questioned associated Christmas with a feeling or action rather than articulating a meaning. But I suggest if you carefully read through the list, a glimpse is in there. One thing for certain, ” … tis the season to be jolly” is often for too many a feeling of the depths of the opposite of jolly.
2020 has been a challenging year for us all in so many unexpected ways, including the loss of freedoms and connectedness in the throes of the pandemic and rapid cultural shifts. For most of us, no matter religion or secular status, this is the time of year we turn inward to reflect and focus on the meaning of this experience called life, our purpose, in some form or fashion.
So what is the true meaning of Christmas?
There is no way to write this without declaring I am a Christian who has a specific belief in the meaning of Christmas based on scripture. You may not share this perspective – but I ask those who are secular to hang in there till the end hoping that you too might gain some insight you might find illuminating.
No matter if one is a person of faith or not, the historical biblical writings about the birth of Jesus all deliver a message of simplicity – common sense.
- We are all sinners, and the fragility in that fact binds us to one another.
- We are all worthy of love and capable of giving love if we choose.
- We all need hope and need to practice grace.
- We should not live in fear.
- We all will need a Savior.
- We all are salvageable if we make a choice to be redeemed (Salvation).
Christians believe that the birth of Jesus Christ reveals to us meanings as exemplified as to the following:
Matthew 1:20-21 – “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary as your wife. She will bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20-28 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
John 3:17 – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
God sends an angel to Mary – Luke 1:29-37 – “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Isaiah 43:1 – “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 – “For all the promises of God in Him [Jesus] are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”
2 Peter 1:4 – “By Him, we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that through Jesus you may be partakers of the divine nature…”
1 John 2:25 – “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.”
Luke 2: 9-14 – An angel appears to Shepherds; “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’
Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Matthew 28:20 – “and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
John 14:1 – “Let not your heart be troubled.”
John 14:3 – “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may also be.”
Even if one rejects the tenets of religious faith, the common threads that weave are the sobering state of mankind that has always revealed itself as in a perpetual loop of sinning (or if you prefer self-sabotaging or intent to harm others by actions). Choose any vice or moral dilemma and denote if not faith in God – one must lean on a belief system, someone, or something to help them when they cannot help themselves. Redemption cannot be accomplished in a vacuum of isolation.
Another way to say this is-the cancer patient may need and trust the Oncologist that saves their life based solely on training, The addict may feel the good and open heart of the addiction counselor caring what happens to them is enough to promote self-love and healing. The murderer may feel the prison library staff provides them solace and an outlet to gain much-needed self-esteem based on federal grant initiatives. But the Christian would view all of the above as God working through the spirit of others to show his purpose, promise, and presence in one’s life.
For a Christian, the only way to individual salvation is to believe in Jesus’s birth as the son of God who died for our sins and is our savior, ” the only way to the father is through the son.” Perhaps a bridge between seculars and people of faith can be that we may all agree on two thoughts. The first, love is inconceivably selfless, irrepressible, unconditional, and the purest highest form of self-actualization. And the second, that the meaning of Christmas remembers a greater purpose is inside each of us.
John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
For other people of faith and me, Christmas’s true meaning is the acknowledgment and celebration of this incredible act of love through the ultimate sacrifice. Such a sacrifice means I am worthy of love and compelled to share my love through grace and with humility. Redemption is mine through living my life through Christ, a life without fear.
God’s presence is with us all the time, not just at Christmas. This Christmas, may Christ’s presence be felt in your life in the most profound ways. See it in the light that washes through every shadow and contrast of what you gaze upon-absorb the reflection like nourishment. Hear it as your elder recounts their legacy over Christmas dinner but pick up the different nuances this year, in laughter and children’s shouts with glee and anticipation, most of all, in the silent pauses of pain and worry, just intently listening is healing for both. Feel the warmth of a smile from a stranger, the wonderment of a child’s suspension of belief, and the fulfillment that Jesus and others love you.
Thanks for sticking through till the end. If you are a secularist and may love fill your heart with passions and purpose, may you never feel alone or scared … may tolerance lead you to paths of enlightenment.
But take stock and comfort in God’s promise and be not afraid. BE NOT AFRAID what lies ahead, for God gave his only son so you can find peace and salvation. Merry Christmas from all of us at the Right Wire Report to ALL, and have a blessed New Year.
2020 was quite a year! Imagine what 2021 holds for us?