“It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…” (Meanings of Christmas: Fr. Andrew Greeley, Woman’s Day, 12-22-81)
My idea of Christmas has been so largely shaped by years immersed in the happy holiday bustle of decorating, baking, laughing and singing and celebrating with family. Christmas conjures images of evergreen garlands, twinkling lights, and cookies upon cookies. And so I have tried to re-create that cheerful, sparkling busyness as best I can.
But could Christmas really conjure anything sweeter than the image of Jesus come to earth, born to atone for our sin because our Father loved us and sent His son to be the Savior of the world?
As I drove to church yesterday, I imagined explaining Christmas to my little babies someday (whom my friend Morgan calls Brichals — Bryant + Michals). I imagined telling them, “God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to be born, so he could take away our sin and make us God’s children.” And then I recalled, hearing Mom’s sing-song recitation in my head, a verse she and Dad taught me when I was probably barely old enough to recite it after them: “God loved us and sent His Son. 1 John 4:10.”
Remembering this, my goal for this last Advent week is to transform Christmas, to be immersed in praises whatever else the Christmas celebrating brings.