There are several customs/traditions people adopt in their celebration of Christmas. Some are good, some not so good. I certainly do not wish to be the judge over the good and bad, it’s just that we know some things distract from what Christmas is really about and pull us away into the more secular observance of the holiday than help us focus on the real meaning of the Holy Day.
From a children’s book that was written in 2005 called The Elf on the Shelf a whimsical play has developed in may households involving an elf (often mischievous) that moves around from day to day and reports back to Santa about the children. Last year “Kindness Elves” appeared that urged kids to do something good for someone every day. From these ideas the “Maccabee on the Mantle” has developed for Jewish households in their celebration of Hanukkah. There is also the “Mensch on a Bench” with the same thought in mind. There is “The Christmas Angel” which is billed as being “for families more interested in religion than reindeer.”
I’ve seen yards with a kneeling Santa bowing down at a Manger, or even a Santa and sleigh flying by the nativity scene. These make me wonder how folks would respond to a picture of an Easter Bunny standing by the women at the tomb when we celebrate Easter? Or the same rabbit appearing on a bulletin cover next to a picture of Jesus on the cross? What attention is given to the Nativity/Crèche in your house? Did a hidden pickle in a Christmas tree get more discussion than the scene of Mary and Joseph humble, yet proud of the child they adore as seen through the miniature figures in your house?
What about the music we hear. There is so much drivel out there in the songs that use the word Christmas or focus on a winter holiday but never reveal the value of it like “There’s Something About Christmas Time,” “I’ll be home for Christmas,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and many more. Even the favorite “White Christmas” has nothing to do with Jesus, but it’s easily understood why when we remember that the person who wrote it was Jewish and this was about sales not salvation after all. That’s the same reason Barbara Streisand put out a Christmas Album. Hey, Christians will buy or buy into almost anything that mentions Christmas even if it has nothing to do with Christmas.
If your Christmas has more fantasy fluff than Spiritual Stuff, there is still time to salvage it. Christmas begins Dec. 25th and continues through January 6th (remember another secular, familiar 12 days song?). How about getting into some daily devotions with the family, you may even consider continuing them on throughout the New Year. Maybe a “Manger on the Mantle” or a “Crèche on the Credenza” would be a better daily focus than worrying about whether a man wearing crushed red velvet who sneaks into our house while we are sleeping will leave joy or sadness because of our being naughty or nice.
If anyone knows us and our deeds, it’s Jesus. And it is His celebration, His Birthday. Let’s make Him the focus again. It can be fun to have the mythological distractions to play with, but don’t let them have more time than the Christ of Christmas. He is real after all and these fairy-tale things are not. (Except Leprechauns, we all know they are real. J …says my Irish blood.)