Christmas

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embellishment

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Recently I was going through some old papers and came across a letter I had received from Lowell Green in 1972. (Mr. Green is the retired host of The Lowell Green Show, a conservative morning talk show on Ottawa radio station CFRA, and has also syndicated programming to several other Canadian radio stations.)

It was a one-line response to a letter which I had sent to him describing my dislike of the glitzy, commercial aspect of Christmas.

As I looked at this 41 year old letter from Mr. Green, my thoughts drifted back to an experience I had when I was between five and six years of age in the mid 1950’s.

My mother was doing spring cleaning, and my brother was with me in the living room as we ‘helped.’ (I’m sure my mother had another word for it, but that’s another story!)

In those days we had old Venetian blinds on the window—the big wide ones that fought back valiantly when unsuspecting housewives attempted to clean them. In the heat of the battle, (which I suspect the blinds were winning) my mother picked up a shiny pink object from the window sill and said, “well, well, well—look what I found.”

It was an Easter egg.

She winked at my brother and made a comment about the Easter bunny and for some reason, my ‘kid radar’ kicked in as it picked up a curious inflection in her voice.

I looked her. She and my brother were grinning knowingly at each other.

All of a sudden, I knew. I knew that bunnies did not lay eggs. And if bunnies didn’t lay eggs, guess what, there is no Easter bunny.

In short order, I also deduced that if there was no Easter bunny, there was also no Santa Claus.

My mother realized what had happened and she said to me: You’re a big girl now. You know the truth about Santa and the Easter bunny.

I was stunned.

My first thought was: Why did they lie to me?

My parents and my older brother knew the truth. Why didn’t they didn’t tell me so I could know, too?

I felt so embarrassed. How could I have been so stupid to believe that bunnies laid eggs? Or that reindeer could fly!

When I wrote my ‘grinchy’ Christmas letter to Lowell Green in 1972, to me, the reason for the season was to spend money, party and get drunk. I didn’t give a hoot about religion or theology and the jolly fat elf wearing red pyjamas had long since ceased to amuse me.

I was, however, thinking about the Christmas customs and traditions that I had enjoyed as a child. I was searching for meaning in a season that for me, was spiralling out of control. I was dealing with my first year alone working in the big city, and for the first time ever, trying to discover what did or did not have meaning in my life—especially the meaning of Christmas. I wanted to celebrate Christmas without being critical or judgemental about the traditions and practices of others, yet at that time, Christmas had little meaning for me other than glitz, commercialism and a great deal of unwanted foofaraw.

Mr. Green kindly replied to me with a one-line note that stated:

The nice thing about Christmas, Valerie, is that it can be anything you want it to be.

It was a nice comment, and I wanted to believe it, but somehow a question nagged at me that needed to be answered.

That question was: Can it?

Alas, even then, as a somewhat arrogant non-believer in the biblical Christmas story, the answer was no.

Intuitively I knew that we cannot make Christmas anything we want it to be. Christmas is what it is.

A celebration, on the other hand, is a different matter.

And I think that is what Mr. Green meant. How we celebrate (or don’t celebrate) Christmas is a matter of choice.

For bible believers, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and hence, Christians celebrate his birth at Christmas.

Since I was not a believer, at the time I wrote Mr. Green I saw no reason what-so-ever to celebrate Christmas. Except to get presents, that is.

However, as I came to understand the biblical message behind the story of Jesus birth, I began to see and understand that there was more to “The Reason for the Season” than the manger scene.

I learned that Jesus is the reason for the season not only because he was born, but because of the reason He was born.

Once I understood the reason Jesus was born, I now celebrate Christmas with joy, reverence and a thankful heart.

I stand before the Lord in awe, humbled by the act of God becoming man. I stand before Him in wonder, knowing that His birth was the start of His journey to Calvary. I stand before Him with a thankful heart, rejoicing at what He accomplished there for me and for all mankind.

While I don’t celebrate the story of the benevolent old elf, I do find the story creative, imaginative and fun. And like children everywhere, I enjoy a good story, especially one with amazing and colorful characters!

But fantasy presented as truth—that is a different matter altogether. There is a fine line between lying and pretending just as there is a giant abyss between Santa and Jesus.

So no, Lowell, you cannot make Christmas whatever you want it to be.

You can, however, make your celebration anything you choose.

For those who celebrate Christmas ‘only’ the Santa way, my hope and prayer for each of you is that in your precious heart and soul, you will discover for yourself the true meaning and significance of the birth of Jesus.

Then together, for now and all eternity, we can celebrate His birth with joy, singing with the angels praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

For those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas at all, or who don’t think the Bible is God’s word, reluctantly and with a grieving heart, I respect your choice.

However, should you ever decide to seek and ask God to open your heart and mind to the glorious truth of His Word, then I will consider it an honour to join with you in your celebration of the true meaning of Christmas!

And that true meaning is LOVE.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

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On the subject of telling Children the truth about Santa, there is an excellent and kindly written article here that is worth taking a minute to read:

The Truth About Santa.

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The following is a thought-provoking interpretation of the Christmas story that deals with Creator the Bible calls “Word” or “Logos” as stated in the opening verses of the Gospel of John:

The “Unbelievable” Story of Christmas

By Pastor Charlie Lyons, Riverside Baptist Church
Hunstville, Ontario, Canada.

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