Christmas this year was full of mixed feelings for me.
Because someday I’m not going to celebrate Christmas anymore.
There. I said it.
A few months ago, after a long process of prayer, reading, counsel, and thought, I decided that Christmas wasn’t going to be something I’d be celebrating in my future family. Rather early on in that decision, I talked to daddy about it, though I was already quite sure of what my conclusion would be. He said he’d never had a problem with the pagan roots because he saw it as tradition rather than celebrating Christ’s birth. Ok, problem solved… But that wasn’t my main concern. What bothered me was all of the stress and materialism I sensed in our home and others around Christmastime. Stress and materialism are things I don’t want to encourage in my home. And we are working around that as a family, and it could be avoided.
But if you think about it, of course there’s going to stress and materialism because of all the hype about Christmas. All of the concerts and gifts you have to make and buy and wrap, all the cookies to bake, all of the things we only do at Christmastime… of course the kids are going to obsess over the Christmas tree because it’s only up for a month out of the year. Sometimes it almost seems like people worship Christmas trees.
About the time I talked to daddy I listened to some messages from the Sufficiency of Scripture conference. My attention was drawn to a few verses in Deuteronomy, where we are commanded not to add to or take away from the law of God. While scripture never says “celebrate Christmas,” or “don’t celebrate Christmas,” there’s no grounds for materialism or the kind of stress caused at Christmas (while there are grounds for giving thanks and rejoicing in His resurrection). We also don’t see the early Church celebrating Christmas… but anyway. That was necessary background to what I was going to say. I know, I keep getting weirder and weirder… and there are other people who say it better than me.
… and I haven’t tried to explain it before and in some ways it’s just one of those decisions you make without a full explanation. And I know people who can do it all without stress and materialism, and if I knew I could, I would too… And just because there’s no tree and no presents doesn’t mean there’s not thankfulness for a quiet day to reflect on Christ.
Christmas holds so many memories and traditions, some of which are just getting started, like the many phases of our paper snowflakes, which I think have now found their resting place in a paper snowflake garland, and have green fairy lights hanging around them. It’s both eerie and ethereal and beautiful at the same time. There’s the treasured ornaments (and the silly ones, and the ones with stories, like the Nutcracker with his head on backwards). There’s the book of Christmas stories by Mr. Dobson. I remember begging daddy to read from it (daddy reads them so beautifully) but then one of us kids would always have to finish reading it, because he would be crying. There’s lying under the Christmas tree looking at the lights cast shadows and rainbows on the floor and ceiling. There’s waking mommy and daddy up on Christmas morning by singing outside their door…. floating at night on the top bunk crowned with green fairy lights and being silly late into the night with Cait, praying for snow on Christmas Eve, candle light services, figuring out clues from gramma and riddles from daddy, excitedly waiting for a sibling to open the present you gave them. I love watching other people open presents, but hate opening them myself. It’s not so bad if someone else opens with me. I don’t like it when all the attention is on me. I’d be perfectly happy getting nothing for Christmas, as long as I could give to others.
Thinking back over all of these treasured memories is bittersweet when you have a conviction that someday they’ll be no more. I wanted to write them down, so even if the holiday is gone, the memories and family history aren’t. Recording things like that is important to me. But many of these things aren’t specifically Christmas. Ornaments can have more places than a Christmas tree, snowflakes, wassail, and gingerbread are winter not Christmas, candles are for all year round, Mr. Dobson’s book can be read anyway, and most Christmas carols with deep meaning can be sung about the second coming of Christ (or need to be re-written for accuracy… like “We Three Kings,” which has become “We, The Kings” this year in our house).
Winter will be a joyous time in my home someday. Hot chocolate, wassail, tea, music, snowflakes, fairy lights, singing, gingerbread, the wonderful cozy warmth after coming in from the cold outdoors… but then I pray that all seasons will have the warm, joyful, cozy, noisy atmosphere. Fall will have tea, apple cider, pumpkin, crisp apples, pie, leaves… schooling outside for as long and as much as possible… summer; lemonade, iced tea, shooting cars down a gutter pipe from the porch, gardening, bike rides… spring; planting… and really, all the seasons start to run together into an atmosphere of joy, singing, children playing, food, making memories, fellowship, encouragement, evangelism, and music.
But at the same time, there’s a joy in knowing I won’t always celebrate Christmas. There are so many days where I’m just so tired of all its triviality in the name of Christ, all the cookies (translated = sugar) and activities, paining over what to give someone… It can be so terrible at times. So call me scrooge or translate this as “Bah, humbug, Christmas,” but that’s that and over and done with in my mind, and I just thought I might share…