The photo at the top of this post is of my family and me during one of our past Christmases. Christmas takes different shapes for different people different years. Today we identify five different types of Christmases and what they look like. As you read about them, see if you recognize yours.
1) The Going to Dad and Mom’s Christmas
On the way to Dad and Mom’s, your stream of consciousness sounds something like this: “I’m bored already and we’re not even there yet. The Cavs play the Heat tomorrow, and I won’t see it. I wonder if any bad blood will boil over. I hope Dad doesn’t bug me about my job. Battle of the 5 Armies is out. No chance we’ll see that. I hope he doesn’t tell me why he thinks libertarians are “clueless.” Yeah, “clueless.” That was the word he used last time. I think I have one of the Lord of the Rings movies on my phone–maybe, if I sit at the table and hold my phone low…”
2) The People Coming Over Christmas
Oh those three words, people-coming-over, and what they mean. The People Coming Over Christmas means, do these things, and do them fast: Clean the house. Fix the broken doorknob. Run to the store and buy a new doorknob because you couldn’t fix the broken doorknob. Hide the bag full of empty recyclable cans. Put away all the stuff that’s all over the guest bedroom. Fix that one string of lights that doesn’t work. Run to the store and pick up a new string of lights, because you couldn’t fix the broken string of lights…
And that’s the easy part because next comes the last minute gift shopping, with the crowds, and the traffic, and the lady in line ahead of you who can’t find her credit card because it’s buried in her purse that’s big enough to hold five more tiny dogs like the one she’s holding in her left arm while she looks for her credit card. “Take your time,” you think to yourself. “I’m in no hurry.”
3) The Non-existent Christmas
The non-existent Christmas means no church. No travel. No extended family. Just another day off. Play call of Duty. Watch a movie. Surf the web. Play Crysis 3… (It should be noted that another version of the Non-existent Christmas is the Escape Plan Christmas, where a couple simply goes on vacation.)
4) The Alone Christmas
There are people who spend Christmas alone, or with people who don’t get them to the point where they feel alone. The stream of consciousness for this Christmas sounds something like this: “THIS, is not what Christmas is supposed to be like. Why is my life the way it is? Why can’t it be like John’s? He’s always happy at Christmas. His family is nice and mine is–crazy. Why did this year have to be so hard? Things were supposed to be so much better by now. It’s Christmas, and my life is still…: (Insert continued excessive self reflection here.)
For people experiencing the Alone Christmas, and even for many people who are experiencing one of the other types of Christmases, it can be one of the toughest days of the year.
5) The Fifth Christmas
The Fifth Christmas is the one with Christ in it. You can experience it over at dad and mom’s, or in your own home with people who come over, or at your own place without extended family, or even if you’re alone. (Because, really, you’re never alone.)
If you Google the word Christmas right now, you’ll see on Wiki, or Dictionary.com, or Merriam-Webster.com, or any other website offering a definition, that Christmas is the day we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m convinced that won’t always be the case. I think in the relative near term we’ll see the world turn its back on Christ in greater and greater numbers. I’m really surprised I don’t see more people reject Christ than we do today. The definition of Christmas, like the greeting Merry Christmas, might devolve to the point where any hint of the real purpose of Christmas is considered by those with power and influence to be too offensive to include.
But the truth is, Christmas is the day on which we hinge time itself. It’s the day God’s Son became human. The day the great light entered our dark world. The day the one was born who would show us what love is. The day the man who best exemplified grace and truth was born. The day the most noble man who ever lived was born, the only man you can truly say is utterly and completely good.
Christmas is for the purpose of celebrating that Man’s birth.
Can I give you my best advice?
Include Jesus Christ in your Christmas.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.