Christmas, according to a popular song, is the most wonderful time of the year. People look forward to it for months and stores start pushing you to start your Christmas shopping as early as July. There is pressure everywhere to buy, buy, buy, and anyone not caught up in the commercial spirit is simply labeled a Scrooge. People paint perfect pictures in their heads of what Christmas morning will be like and how wonderful it will be to have the whole family there for Christmas dinner. The average American spends hundreds of dollars on Christmas just trying to create their “perfect” day and keep up with their peers who are also spending hundreds of dollars trying to make everything just right.
As a society, we get so caught up in this idea of an ideal Christmas that we are distracted from what Christmas is all about. Christmas comes from the words Christ and Mass. We are supposed to be celebrating the birth of a little boy who was sent to us by God to show us how to better live our lives. Time and time again, Jesus served as an example of the way God wants us to act. God doesn’t care whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. God doesn’t care if your kids got the latest and greatest toys this year. God doesn’t even care if the ornaments on the tree
are symmetrical or if everyone smiled in the family photo. What God cares about is whether or not you are following Jesus’ example. Are you taking care of the least of his people: the homeless, the widowed, the downtrodden? Are you letting His love shine through you like a beacon of hope for all people, not just those who look and act like you? To me, this is keeping Christ in Christmas. The reason for the season is remembering what God gave and how through the giving of his son, he encouraged us to give of ourselves as well.
So, what if we weren’t ideal Christians during the Christmas season? What if we spent a bunch on ourselves and ignored those in need? What if we were judgmental of people who didn’t wish us “Merry Christmas” or deck their houses with lights? January is a month full of remorse. People lament eating so many sweets, racking up so much debt on their credit cards, and all the craziness of getting everything ready. Why do we work so hard yet feel so empty inside afterwards? It’s because we’ve lost touch with what Jesus wanted. Jesus offered us one thing in abundance and that was love. With everything else, Jesus believed in temperance.
This year, let us be more temperate with our possessions and focus on what Jesus wanted us to focus on – love. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)