“Celebrate Christmas? That’s what we should do everyday in our lives. Not just on the 25th of December.” This would have been my husbands response 10 years ago. Over the years, and many ” ripening” later, we have come to wanting to celebrate Christmas and to start our own traditions. We also want to acknowledge that being counter cultural is not about burying our head in the sand, and pretending we don’t exist around certain cultural traditions, but exalting Jesus Christ in traditions, knowing why we do, what we do.
These are our aspirations, in celebrating Christmas. Our traditions are being formulated currently. This is not at all a doctrinal issue. The way you celebrate Christmas (or not) has no bearing on your spirituality as long as your reason is to glorify God. So if you happen to read this post, would you let me know, what are some of the ways you glorify God with your celebrations? Like I said, we are in the process of formulating some traditions and would love to see and learn what others do.
So here are our thoughts..
Jesus did celebrate
We learn about Jesus attending church on special days, going to Jerusalem to attend feast ( John 2:13), present in weddings (John 2:2) celebrating Passover (Mathew 26:17), so the patterns I see encourage me to celebrate. More over, God of the bible is a God who teaches us to take time to celebrate. He is all about celebrating life. And as if to teach clueless people (like us) how to celebrate, he gives specific instructions on how to celebrate. He is a God who give gifts (2 Cor 9:15),wants His people to make and eat good food (Nehemiah 8:9–10), inviting people, to name a few.
So I believe celebrations glorify God. Now to have our own way of celebrating Christmas, these are what we are doing this year….( not an all inclusive list, I am leaving room for many additions and adoptions.)
Jesus had a simple birth
Again, the way you celebrate does not make you a good or a bad christian. All of us have our own way of celebrating important days. For our family, we choose to keep it simple by focusing on the things that are close to God’s heart. We are taking a stand not to get sucked into the materialistic emphasis on Christmas. I disagree on the way Christmas has been reduced to “giving gifts and getting gifts”, or “trees and lights” only. Our idea of simple may be extravagant to somebody else. I know simplicity is relative and a quality of heart. For us, it is giving up some pleasures so we can share with somebody in need.
After all, the best gift ever given was wrapped in swaddling clothes!
Jesus is the gift
We give gifts to our children only because we want them to know that God was giving you a gift on Christmas day when He gave us Jesus. We do not want to give them gifts because they deserve it ( they were good or bad through the year) but to teach them God is a father who gives good gifts to us.
Jesus is the reason for this season
We like to include some lights and decorations to beautify our house. Again, we are keeping it simple and want to know there is nothing wrong in decorating your house to make it warm and beautiful to sight. But we are determined that these decorations will not take our eyes or hearts off the main reason for the season. Last year we did not have Christmas tree ( because the kids were really small and we did not want little hands pulling the tree down on them) and we still celebrated. This year we have a lighted tree. But our joy, our reason to celebrate is not revolving around the tree.
I also did some reasearch on why we keep a christmas tree? I wanted to know the why of what we do. So I found out that Christmas tree pagan in origin, came from Germany. Martin Luther the church father is considered to be the one who started the tradition of lighting up a fir tree. All in all I am still learning about the tree and not all for it but don’t find anything wrong in it. I used it as an opportunity to teach the children that the evergreen tree is symbolic of the life that Jesus came to give us. He is alive, even today!
Jesus came to give
This is probably the main tradition we want to establish around Christmas time. We want to follow the example of the Lord and give. Giving not just gifts or money, but give our time, our space, our convenience and like David said, it is my desire to give something in a way that would cost us. We can never outgive God and in our ( selfish) giving, I pray that we may learn to give, out of love for God and would point to the ultimate giving – God became flesh and dwelt among us.
Next year we may include some other traditions like advent reading and maybe nativity activities for the children.
Merry Christmas Everyone! Word became man and dwelt among us- The best gift that came to us wrapped in swaddling clothes and with the carols of angles filing the skies!! Whose life became a meaningful gift as He chose the Tree all because of love. May all we do this Christmas, whether it is giving gifts, or lighting a tree or singing carols or celebrating with food, may it all be done in LOVE.