Every year I get frustrated, saying that Christmas has become too commercialized, and yet not wanting to disappoint children, I find myself joining the rest of the throngs who buy, buy, buy at Christmas time. I love Christmas eve because that is when my family takes the time to focus on Christ and his birth. This picture of my son Taylor 18 years ago pretty much sums up how I feel about Christmas eve. It should be quiet and peaceful with a warm glow as we honor our Savior by recognizing his sacred birth. The spirit that is felt with a fire crackling in the fireplace and the lights glowing on the tree as we read from Luke chapter 2 brings peace to my soul. Christmas morning, the focus seems to be too much on “What did you buy me?” or “What didn’t I get that I really wanted?” For me, Christmas morning is anticlimactic as the focus shifts from Christ back to materialism.
I’ve heard the phrase “Keeping Christmas” many times as it refers to serving others throughout the year. I don’t want to “Keep Christmas”, however; I want to keep Christmas eve. As a matter of fact, I wish I could make the feeling of Christmas eve last forever. I can if I am willing to try. This year I am not giving in to the spending that normally happens. An economic recession has given me the boost that I needed to truly say, “Let’s stop the nonsense of buying so much and focus more on the true meaning of Christmas.”
What would Christ want me to do? Does he really want His birth celebrated by people spending more money than they have? What did He do while He lived on this earth? He healed the sick and raised the dead; those who were both literally sick and deceased, and others who were spiritually so. Most of us don’t have the power to do that, but we do have the power to lighten the burden of those whose hands fall down and whose knees are weak.
We can do little things. We can give a hug to someone who lives alone and who hungers for the touch of another. We can smile to a frazzled cashier in a store and thank them for their hard work when the lines are long and children are crying. We can let another driver cut in line when the traffic is snarled and nerves are frayed.
When my daughter asks to me to read a book to her and the list of unsent Christmas cards is long and the ingredients for unbaked goodies are still on the counter, I can say, “I’d love to read with you. Go get a book and hop on my bed!” After all, didn’t Christ serve the children even when the disciples said he was too tired and tried to turn them away?
Last night I went with a group of friends from my church and sang at a home where many homeless come to get a meal. We put on a short Christmas program of scriptures telling the story of Christ’s birth, intermixed with Christmas carols. Right before we started, one of my friends asked those listening to sing along with us if they desired. I am so glad she added that, because to see the joy on some of these people’s faces as they sang was priceless. One woman had a face that was etched in scars. I’m sure she has a tough story to tell, but the joy in her eyes as she sang with us of Christ’s birth brought true beauty to her countenance.
There was a refugee family present from Africa who was clearly Muslim as the mother and her daughters were wearing headscarves. Thankfully, there was no ACLU representative to tell them that they should be offended since we were singing of Christ. Instead, the woman caught my eye as I sang, and a broad grin flashed across her face. For that brief moment, my heart spoke to hers. I sang of Christ, she probably speaks of Allah. And yet, we are both daughters of the same God, even though we give Him different names. It’s moments like that, that help me keep Christmas eve in my heart.