Tis' the end of Brown Thursday, Black Friday, and now comes the rush to buy whatever's left for the Christmas morning debacle of boxes of ties and/or underwear for Dad, pots and pans for Mom and electronic gizmos for the kids. There is also a soon-to-arrive thank you card from Visa asking that you pay as you go just in case you forgot.
Of course, Christmas and the economy have become so dependent upon one another that it is difficult, at best, to figure out where Christmas went and why did it go insofar as monetary stability is concerned.
I am not too worried about the contraction or abbreviation "Xmas," which seems to bother a lot of folks. In the Greek, the letter X is the first letter of the word "Christ" and has been used for the past 400 years. No one has left Christ out of Christmas. As far as being a day of celebration and gift-giving, that didn't happen until some 700 years ago. If you want to get technical, the Puritans outlawed Christmas and after the American Revolution — because Christmas was considered an English invention — few celebrated the holiday.
Christmas came back into favor because of such books as Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and Moore's poem, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Hold on to your mittens! I have read that it was during F.D. Roosevelt's administration that we moved Thanksgiving back in order to extend the Christmas shopping season to improve the economy as we were going through the Great Depression. For you folks who truly worry about the misuse of Christmas, check out the Supreme Court's verdicts for Lynch v. Donnelly 1984 and Ganulin v. United States 1999: "It does not violate the Establishment Clause because it has a valid secular purpose."
If we truly don't like what SCOTUS has done, let's overturn the decision by constitutional means and not just fuss about it. By the way, don't get me started about Santa Claus, Weihnachtsmann or Father Frost ... or Christmas trees, bells, stockings and decorated houses because I love elves, Christmas music and whatever the season brings to delight children and old folks like me.
Let's talk about Christmas. If we begin with Isaiah 7:14, we begin to get a glimpse of something remarkable that would happen for a world in darkness. We rapidly move to Matthew, which asks us to open our minds and read very carefully about the fulfillment of a prophecy. Once we begin, we cannot stop.
We read about some wise men from Persia who saw a star unlike any other star, King Herod, whose reign and authority would be challenged by a child born into a world for a purpose yet to be understood. We then open another gospel called Luke and read the words of this child's mother, Mary, "The Magnificat!" and her husband's father, Zechariah, who prophesied with his "Benedictus!" Something wonderful is happening to this world! Luke doesn't speak of wise men, wealthy and highly respected, but rather of lowly shepherds who are blessed by the sight of an angel — one remarkable messenger of God I might add — and a crowd of heavenly beings filling the world with an everlasting message, "Glory to God and know that the earth has been blessed!"
Please don't tell me that our celebrations, in all of their oddities and strange homogeneity over the years, can get in the way of the real reason we Christians celebrate and cherish as the ultimate gift of God who we can call by name and claim the future He died for and gave to those who believe!
Julie and I have our tree up and decorated, and she has placed all of our Christmas ornaments and lights in just the right places so that our home is filled with memories of what were, now is and always will be. The church we attend has a tree of lights and Chrismons and the congregation won't miss a Sunday without carols and a very special choral presentation that will announce, "We are ready for Christmas!!"
We are in the time of Advent, Arrival, and we are like kids whose eyes get so big because we don't want to miss anything and heads so full of excitement because we want to cherish every moment that we just can't wait!
Like the folks in Whoville, Christmas will come in spite of commercialism, the Grinch, lack of a pile of presents and all the decorations money can buy. Why? Because God gave us Christmas and nothing we do or whatever anyone else can do will take it away.
Merry Christmas soon to come!