I love the Christmas season. I love the decorating and the baking and the family time together. I love how close I feel to my Savior at this time of year. I have always felt closer to Jesus at Christmas than at Easter. I know that without Easter and the fact that he rose from the grave, Christmas wouldn't be important. I just have always felt that Christmas was a time of new beginnings. I can't hear 'O Holy Night' without my heart swelling and tears coming to my eyes.
I know that a lot of Christians have stopped celebrating Christmas all together because aspect of it have pagan roots. I also know because it doesn't say specifically in the Bible to celebrate anything about Jesus's birth, a lot of people don't celebrate. I don't think I will ever feel that way. Christmas isn't just important to me for the gifts or the cakes and cookies. Christmas is the time of year that Jesus comes alive for me. I look at my own sons and I think of that long ago night when Mary looked on the face of her son. I wonder if she knew at that time how he would be killed to save us all. I think the song "Mary Did You Know" ( can't remember the artist off hand) sums up how I feel.
I also know that Santa is another big issue in both religious and non-religious families. On other websites I've seen battles back and forth. The people that tell their kids about Santa say people who don't are depriving their children of a childhood. The people that don't tell their children about Santa say that people who do are lying to their children.
In my house Santa is a big deal. Jesus is the reason for the season here, but Santa is the one that brings us our gifts if we have been good :). We track Santa on Norad every year, we leave out milk and cookies, but we also talk about how Jesus was born on Christmas and he was a gift to all of us. He gave himself for us and because of that we need to give to other people. We use this season as a great teaching tool. We get a child off the giving tree, we don't pass a Salvation Army bucket without throwing something in, and we talk to our boys about how important it is to give time or money or food to people who don't have these things.
My oldest is only 6 so it hasn't all sunk in yet but every year we talk about how important it is and how Jesus talks in the Bible that we need to take care of the poor. We aren't perfect at this and I'm sure there is more we could be doing, especially at this time of year, but we do our best and we all learn more every year.
I feel like this is a magical time of year. What other time of year do you hear people of other religions (or even no religion) singing about the Christ child? Even if they don't believe and they never believe I still think that there is something magical about that :)
I love that there are different celebrations from other religions at this time of year too! In all of them family is a central focus. In this crazy mixed up world, where families don't have time for each other on a day to day basis, how cool is it that there are celebrations that bring families together? That is so needed and it makes me so joyful to look around and see families being together.
Let me tell you, I'm 32 and I still get a thrill out of tracking Santa on Norad. I still get a thrill seeing people GIVING, and I still get a mighty thrill that makes my throat close a little and my eyes tear up when I think about Christ born in a manger all those years ago.
I hope that every has a wonderful Holiday season and for everyone that celebrates Christmas I hope you have a Merry Christmas! (Or a Holly Jolly one if you so desire :))