Christmas

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. Mr Green also syndicated programming to several other Canadian radio stations.)

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

When I wrote my ‘grinchy’ Christmas letter to Lowell Green in 1972 my Santa years were long past. For me, the reason for the season was mostly about spending money, partying and getting drunk. I didn’t give a hoot about religion or theology and the chubby old elf in red pyjamas with his flying livestock had long since ceased to amuse me.

I was, however, ever mindful about the Christmas customs and traditions that I had enjoyed as a child. At the same time, 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, and in December, especially the meaning of Christmas. I wanted to celebrate Christmas without being critical or judgmental 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 an arrogant non-believer in the meaning of 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 in December, even though he was probably born in March.

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

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.

As I slowly came to understand the reason Jesus was born something deep inside me changed. 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 a man. I stand before Him in wonder, knowing that His birth was the start of His journey to Calvary. And that his journey to Calvary led to his resurrection, ascension, and his yet-to-happen, second coming.

What a fantastic, unbelievable story. A story that is only a myth if Jesus was not raised from the dead and ascend into heaven. A story that each one of us has the privilege to examine and believe or disbelieve for themselves.

I believe, and therefor I stand before Him with a thankful heart, rejoicing at what He accomplished there for me and for all mankind and for all eternity. Either Jesus was who he said he was, did what he said he did, or he was a liar and a lunatic. It is up to each one of us to examine the facts and decide for ourselves who Jesus is and what he accomplished on our behalf.

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 their own 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 meaning encompasses Justice, Love, Forgiveness and our Eternal Destiny.