By: Janna Adams
“I just don’t really like Christmas all that much."
That’s a common phrase that leaves my mouth when Thanksgiving dwindles down and little stands selling pine tree begin popping up in the parking lots of grocery stores. And the reactions I receive range from astonished to concerned.
How can you not like Christmas?
Well aren’t you a grinch.
It’s the most magical time of the year!
And then I feel the need to clarify, more for their sake than mine, that it’s not the reason we celebrate Christmas that I dislike, but rather what it’s become in our culture today.
The consumerism and marketing around Christmas time just exhausts me. What used to be a three week blanket of cheery songs on the radio and passing a tree decorated in your living room has become a three month preparation for the one day of the year with the highest expectations imaginable. Everything is themed red and white. Santa is in every commercial. All the stores are having holiday sales—so many holiday sales, so make sure you get all the perfect presents for everyone on your list or they’ll probably disown you!
My cynicism isn’t the best outlook for the holiday season, I know. But sometimes all that Christmas is expected to be just overwhelms me into a spirit of I-Can’t-Wait-Till-This-Is-Over. And the real spirit of Christmas, the celebration of the baby born in Bethlehem who came to save the world, is left in the dust. And suddenly I’ve become the very problem that I have with consumer Christmas: distracted instead of grateful.
Because we know Jesus, Christmas means more to us than just presents and food and family. It means taking the time to remember why God sent his son for us—beyond the manger, beyond the frankincense and myrrh, and beyond the questionable claim that he never cried. God sent his son to die for us—a part of the story that we often forget about when we’re eating cookies by the fireplace and exchanging gift cards. And letting the real reason for Christmas be overshadowed by what is has become is just as bad as accidentally letting this season be about getting your kids that new iPad.
So, how can I not like Christmas? As a follower of Jesus, you’re right—I have no excuse. I know that we’ve been given the greatest gift in the son of God, and regardless of what I see on TV, hear on the radio, and am bombarded with every time I enter a store, that remains the reason for the season.
I’m still not going to condone three months of Christmas songs, though. You can’t make me.