It’s April. Yes, I’m aware that it is over 70 degrees and sunny outside. It is obvious to me that I am in shorts and a tank top, with the heat on just a little lower, with a glass of lemonade, with a bouquet of tulips sitting on my nightstand.
But I’m thinking about Christmas.
Yes. Christmas. I actually tweeted not too long ago that I swear there is healing power in Christmas music, which is good because I’m coming down with something. I’m listening to my indie/eclectic Christmas station with some string lights hanging over my bed, and despite the fact that it’s April, I can’t get Christmas out of my mind.
Based on the title…you might be thinking that I’m going to discuss why everyone is wrong and what the true meaning of Christmas is.
Actually, not so much. People have a pretty good handle on what Christmas is about. It’s about Jesus’ birthday, family, love, being together, giving rather than receiving, and cookies. I’d say people know what they’re doing when it comes to the what Christmas is really about.
The delusion is this: Christmas is only one day a year.
Yes, that’s the mystery, the lie, the delusion surrounding Christmas – people think Christmas is one day a year.
Well. I don’t. I think that’s a load of crock.
Christmas? Once a year? One day, December 25th? You people are ridiculous. I mean, come on.
“Christmas isn’t just a day…it’s a frame of mind.” Everyone who is anyone has heard that line from Miracle on 34th Street at some point in their lives – be it by watching the movie or by hearing it repeated daily from September to the day of by your Christmas-obsessed girlfriend.
Well, it’s true! Christmas is actually a year round thing, even though you misers out there refuse to admit it. I’m going to break it down for you. Let’s start at the very beginning, yes?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Read.)
It’s very dark. It’s very cold. God’s breath curls out in wisps in front of him. It is time to use that breath, His very words, to create.
God speaks, creates. It’s now very bright, very warm. A new creation has been brought out of nothing, by the work of the Spirit, life has been breathed in, and gratefulness has been breathed out.
A woman, a man. New life. Creation sings, the multitudes worship His greatness.
Now, tell me. Did I just describe the week that God created the earth, or did I just describe the night Christ was born?
If you guessed either, I was actually describing both.
My point is this – what makes Christmas “Christmas” is the same thing that makes up everything else, every other day.
Peace. Joy. Family. Love. Christ. New beginnings.
This is Christmas Day, yes. But this is also every day.
Why peace, though? Why am I singling this word out?
Peace. What better word to describe Christmas than peace?
A fire snapping, a cat curled up, a garland twinkling and a tree shining, a mug steaming, a snowfall drifting, a pad of slippers shuffling from a family member, a crackle of a book page turned, a soft tune from the radio, a crunch munch of a cookie.
Yes, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, the entire Christmas season from after Thanksgiving to right before the Epiphany, this is summed up in one word, and that word is none other than peace.
What makes Christmas “Christmas” is the same thing that makes up everything else.
Or rather, should make up everything else.
But how often do we have peace in our lives? Unfortunately for many, and for myself especially, it is not as often as it should be. We even corrupt Christmas with bustling buzzing busy tasks and lists and chores and burnt cookies and frostbitten noses and that one Christmas decoration the cat seems to target.
The Christmas delusion is that Christmas comes once a year. The Christmas delusion is that peace comes once a year.
The Bible mentions the word peace 361 times. (Read.)
That’s almost an entire year of daily peace. So why do we limit it to a few December days?
The angels cry to the shepherds “Peace!”
Christ tells the sea, wind, the sinners, the healed, the mourning apostles “Peace!”
“Peace on Earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day.” Poet Helen Steiner Rice had it right when she said peace in our hearts, a Christmas kind of peace, will reside on earth forever if we live it out.
When I was younger, I wished that I could bottle Christmas spirit, so whenever I felt poorly or sad I could crack one open and just breathe in the scents, sounds, sights, smells, and feel of Christmas.
Even now I listen to Christmas music and put on my string lights when I’m having a long day or I’m feeling particularly upset.
I know plenty of people who do that.
What we fail to realize is that it isn’t Christmas our hearts are longing for, it’s peace.
Our hearts were made for peace. Our souls were made for peace.
When there is an absence of peace, we reach out for the nearest things to bring us this seemingly unattainable ideal – in my case, Christmas.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with my mother this past December. We spend a month, sometimes longer, preparing for Christmas day. Then the night of Christmas Day, after the tearing and shrieking and hello hugs that bring in the cold and tired hands that wave goodbye then shut the door in relief, my mother and I sit and stare and pick at leftovers and feel unsettled. Did we really spend over 700 hours anticipating (and probably about three or four times as much money preparing for) a day that didn’t even seem – dare I say it – that great?
I’ll tell you why.
When we yearn for peace, and seek it anywhere else other than the Prince of Peace, we will be disappointed.
I am just now realizing this, as the conversation I had with my mother was indeed only about 90 days ago. I am indeed realizing that when I seek for peace, comfort, joy, anything, in anything other than Christ, I am setting myself up for disappointment.
Why are we surprised, then, when we are finally disappointed?
Truly, we must begin to realize that Christmas, when we get down to the cornerstone of it, is simply about finding peace in the presence of Christ. Christ didn’t come in with fireworks and crowds and rainbows and ponies (okay come to think of it there were probably some horses around) and magic tricks.
He came in the peace of night, in the peace of a sleeping newborn, in the peace of His mother’s arms, in the peace of a little town.
He came in peace and He came to bring and bestow peace.
We call him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Read.)
“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” Dickens had it right when he wrote A Christmas Carol, and his miser Ebenezer found peace in the Christmas season – peace, joy, forgiveness, family, friends, love.
And Dickens was right when he purported that Ebenezer Scrooge try to keep Christmas in his heart all the year long, not because he suddenly loved the holiday, but because he suddenly understands what it feels like to have peace in his heart.
And why would you ever go back to the time before you found peace once you know what it feels like?
Well, I tell you truly, I fall to that trap often. I often lose sight of the One who brings me peace, simply because I am so caught up in…well, life. Life trips me up. Life trips us all up.
Dirty dishes piled and sheets wrinkled and glasses spilled on clothes and clothes spilled on carpet, books unopened, episodes too often watched, friends walking in and out of my door and my heart – life trips me up.
And so I listen to Christmas music.
My heart yearns for the days when my biggest problem was fighting with my mom over wearing stockings to Christmas Mass, or when I couldn’t go to sleep – not because I was up crying or worrying – but because I could’ve sworn I heard sleigh bells.
For the mornings when I could wake up and look down the hall and see my mom putting up the Manger scene, or the nights when I could wake up and look down the hall and see the twinkling decorations, rather than waking up sad and going to bed angry.
My heart yearns for those Christmas movies where Fred taps and Bing sings, where Charlie mopes and Linus preaches, where Judy Garland sits in a dreamy red velvet dress and pines for her home, where Rudolph finds friends and Frosty brings magic, because these Christmas films all end happily and provide an escape from my unhappily ending (or seemingly never ending) days.
When life trips me up, I yearn for Christmas.
I yearn for peace.
And so, the biggest delusion surrounding Christmas is that it can only happen once a December.
That’s not true. Christmas can happen every day.
Let us remember that peace can manifest itself in multitudes of ways, and all comes from the same Person, the very same One who brought us Christmas and a reason to celebrate.
Sometimes I feel there is no music more peaceful than Christian Christmas carols.
The peace that I associate with Christ, with a starry night, with praising angels, with a newborn baby and His family, with Christmas, is the peace that I want to saturate my life 365 days a year, not just December 25th.
I say this to you one more time: when we yearn for peace, and seek it anywhere else other than the Prince of Peace, we will be disappointed.
And so, dear readers, I bring us to the close of this post with a summation.
1. The Christmas Delusion tells us that Christmas comes once a year.
2. We associate Christmas with peace.
3. Peace is found in Christ, so when our hearts and minds long for the Christmas season, our souls are longing for Christ.
4. Christmas is recorded as being a compound word formed from Greek then transformed into Middle English then finally added up to make Christmas. Where did this compound form? Christ’s Mass. I’m not making this up, google it.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, the point is made plainly clear.
Christmas – that is, Christ, peace, joy, thanksgiving, love – can be found whenever we seek out the Eucharist, and receive His peace into our hearts, body, soul.
Christmas – that is, Christ, peace, joy, thanksgiving, love – can be found every single day.
On Earth peace and goodwill to all.
*Feeling particularly festive? Check out this video from The Skit Guys about Christmas’s coming.