More than ever, I believe that the real meaning of Christmas is weeks of preparation, a desperate bid by shops to make up their retail shortfall, sending cards out to enough people so they don't feel snubbed and the need to give good presents to our nearest and dearest.
It's about Santa - or Father Christmas, Rudolph and the other reindeer. It's about mince pies, pretend snow and Carol singing (although not Carols).
On another level Christmas is about surviving and not letting people down. It's about holding the family together without arguments and it's about surviving all the parties without making too much of a fool of ones-self.
It's not that I resent these things, I actually enjoy them. I love that we spend more time socialising and doing things for other people. Christmas is a great way to look forward to the harshest weather of the year. I would hate if Christmas was removed from the calendar.
...but as a Christian, I am less aware of the Biblical significance of Christmas than ever. It seems, at best, secondary to everything else I associate with Christmas. It's like a tagged-on meaning to Christmas for me, and a great many of the others I speak with.
Jesus' birth is not the real meaning of Christmas, it is the emphasis on this winter festival that Christians place. The festival would happen just the same without it. I seriously doubt whether Christmas does much in the way of reinforcing the Christian message. It seems to act more as a sort of guilt-inducing party-pooper:
“Sure, you're having fun and eating too much - but shouldn't you be thinking about the REAL meaning of Christmas?”
I could forgive anyone who comes up with a “whatever” response to that one.
So what is the real meaning of Christmas? I would say that Christmas will have its own meaning for each of us every year. The message changes in the same way that the world changes and we change. This year, the message for me is that I am so very fortunate to be part of a loving family who truly care for one another. I am also thrilled to be living in the best place on earth, as I call it. I am also slowly learning to shed the past and move on into the promises of the future. It's not been an easy journey at times, but I am grateful to be travelling it.
Each year there is much to learn, and much to resolve for the future. My thought would be not to take refuge in tradition alone, but to look for new ways reach out to those around us and help to make the world a more smashing place to be. Just like Jesus did.
Oh shit. I promised myself`I wouldn't do that.
So Merry New Year And A Happy Last Christmas To You All!