I hope that this Christmas season was phenomenal for each and everyone reading this post. I hope you deeply and thankfully celebrated the miraculous (even that word seems somehow lacking doesn’t it?) Incarnation of the one true God with a church body you are fully committed to and that is likewise fully committed to you. I hope you were able to enjoy the company of dear family and friends in merry conversation, recreation, and feasting. I hope you were able to worship in song, hearing of the Word, giving, serving and hospitality the God who ultimately defined self-sacrificing by coming to be God with us.
As I am writing these words before Christmas in a post to be published after Christmas I suppose I hope these things for myself as well.
I am certain, however, that if the Lord allows my mortal life to persist beyond Christmas Day I will also greet December 26th thoroughly glad to have the season past us.
Those readers who know me personally know that I describe myself as full of bah-humbuggery in the days leading up to Christmas. The reason for this is that the days leading up to Christmas start so much earlier every year. As the title of this post says, in corruption of Lewis’ famous line from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in our world it appears it will soon be always Christmas and never winter. I believe this year I saw Christmas decorations and advertisements before I saw the first Halloween pumpkin. I say with almost no hyperbole whatsoever that I suspect we shall soon spend Labor Day doing our Christmas shopping. I may live long enough, if the good Lord allows, to see Christmas connect with the sweltering heat of mid-summer and fireworks of patriotic holidays.
What wonder I feel at the thought of Christmas has a hard time keeping its head above the deluge of cultural Christianity, so obviously far from any connection to the birth of the only Savior. Is not what we call Christmas in these days of the West in fact an offering to the false god Mammon?
I agree with C.S. Lewis here fully: It [the pressure of gift-giving] gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.
And is there a god of sentimentality? If so he, she, or it is well represented in these days as well 1.
These combined streams of commercialism and sappy sentimentality added to the 90 days of Christmas advertisements combine to leave me a Christmas burn out long before December 25th arrives.
What is the answer? I’m not sure. I’ve joked that I’m going to consider celebrating Christmas on January 6th as part of the most historic tradition. That, of course, is only a joke. I am, however, not joking when I say Christmas is distressing in my personal orbit and I would love to hear how you who are less Scroogish than I manage to maintain your sanity during and affection for this [seemingly] perpetual season.