When does Christmas start for you? When does it end? If you’re like my family the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when the decorations come out and sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend the artificial tree goes up or we go cut down a real tree. Presents are purchased and Christmas music starts being played on a regular basis.
This all continues for the next month, culminating in Christmas morning with kids excitedly racing to the tree and tearing into presents. A trip to visit extended family between Christmas and New Years wraps up the Christmas festivities with additional gifts, big meals, and good times.
The weekend after New Years brings the drudgery of boxing up all the Christmas decorations and putting them in the attic until next year. It means kids going back to school and me going back to work. Christmas is officially over.
But why should it be? Christmas isn’t decorations, seasonal music, gifts, or time off work. True Christmas is a celebration of God becoming flesh and coming to live among us. Christmas is something we should celebrate in our hearts and in our actions every day.
During the Christmas season we drop money in the Salvation Army red kettles, we pull names off the “angel tree” at our church and buy gifts and food for less fortunate families. Do these families’ needs magically disappear after December 25th? We all know it doesn’t so shouldn’t our “Christmas Spirit” and generosity last all year too?
Christmas is the gift of Christ to all. Jesus gave us the gift of his life, ultimately sacrificing himself for me and you on the cross. That was an amazing gift, but would have been for nothing if not for His resurrection, which brought with it the gift of eternal life. In addition to remembering His birth, Christmas should also be a time to anticipate and prepare for His second coming. I’m forgiven and because of Jesus I have hope that extends beyond the Christmas season and even beyond this brief mortal existence.
Unlike Clark Griswold’s jelly-of-the-month club, Jesus really is the gift that keeps on giving all year round. The generosity and love of our Savior is reason for daily celebration and is an example for us to emulate. So what will you do in the new year to make the true meaning and spirit of Christmas a year-round part of your life?