Did you know there are actually two Christmases?
Yup: the real one, and the fake one.
The fake one is focused on consumption and premature celebration. By the time you’re finished with it, you’re sick of it, and the tree goes out on the curb the 26th of December. Done! Moving on! Time to plan for the Next Thing! Even the dictionary definition of the word “Christmas” points to of the celebration–the mass, the festival, the holiday.
But this is the false Christmas–the emphasis isn’t on the single day, or even a giant party. Really, when you get to the 25th of December, the celebration has just begun.
And that’s because Christmas actually celebrates the coming of a baby. In our church, we call it “Nativity” (which literally means the process of being born). What do we do to welcome a baby into the world? For many parents, there’s a lot of impatient waiting and anxiety. There’s the purchase of supplies, the shower of preparatory gifts, the packing of the hospital bag, or the assembling of the birth team.
And then the baby comes.
And what do we do? We spend all our time with that baby. We get to know them. We cherish them. We simply hold that child and thank God that they arrived safely.
We have been fasting. We have been preparing. We need time for that release to celebrate. Nativity is indeed a lot less like having one big party all December long, and more like anticipating the birth of a child.
Funny–isn’t that what happened at Nativity in the first place?
So, save the feasting for the feast. Let yourself bite your nails in anticipation, and then hold Christ tightly in your heart, and give thanks.
Here are some ways to find the signal in all the noise around Christmas.
- Be intentional about the media you consume and what you participate in–everyone releases their Christmas bonanzas long before Christmas day (movies, specials, parties, and more). Do your best to choose something else instead.
- Be intentional about committing to fewer things so you can dedicate time to pray, fast, and attending more services.
- Be intentional about activities of anticipation with your family, so you can travel together to welcome Christ: an advent calendar (or wreath), reading Scripture together, giving alms to a local charity, and your own personal traditions that your family has cultivated.