Christmas music, lights, decorations, gifts, concerts, sales, television specials, cookies, trees, candles, wreaths, mall Santa Clauses and scores of other sights, sounds and smells signal that something special is happening. Now is the time to think of someone else, whether that be a person close to us or someone in need but whom we may never have met. For The Salvation Army it means getting kettles out, keeping bells repaired, wholesale purchases of toys and food, processing Angel Tree gifts, visiting care facilities until by Christmas Eve the last ounce of strength is spent.
One thing that is settling during these rush times is tradition. Too many people want to jettison tradition, treating it like something akin to yesterday’s trash. But traditions are the basket that holds our collective memories. The Christmas tree we put in our home is linked to trees of our childhood and our children will link this year’s tree to something in their homes decades from now. Christmas traditions ground us, reminding us that Christmas is more than the bills that come due in January, more than the frenetic pace and crowded parking lots. It is deeply meaningful, so that a trace of a smile can be seen on the face of even the worst Scrooge.
We who cherish the Christian Faith find even deeper meaning in our traditions than others. The lights, the candles, the trees, the wreaths, the carols and the gifts speak ultimately of Christ. There has been some drift from the original intention for many, but others point clearly to Christ. Although there is increasing opposition to public nativity scenes, few traditions more accurately tell us about why Christmas is. Dancing snowmen and flying reindeer fade when compared to the beauty of the Christ Child.
This year, stop to consider the why of what you are doing and then thank the Who that is being heralded.