The moment we take our last bite of pie on Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn from turkeys to trees. Radio stations begin to play Christmas music, mall parking lots fill faster than ever and parents everywhere begin to stress out about fulfilling the wish-lists for Santa from children who are suddenly on their best behavior. It is a time filled with yuletide traditions.
But what's the point of it all?
There is nothing wrong with cookies and cocoa or trimming the tree while singing along to Christmas carols. But do our kids know why we are doing it all? Are they aware of more than just Santa Clause, elves and wish lists? Or have we lost sight of the purpose of the traditions?
Every year, there is a lot of complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. But is the answer to forgo all of the trappings of celebration in favor of an austere but sacred holiday? Does it have to be a choice between the sacred and the secular?
I think we are having the entirely wrong argument. We should be asking, "What can we do to ensure that we don't lose the true meaning of Christmas in our yuletide celebrations?"
We don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Rather than forgoing all of your favorite holiday traditions, why not add to them? Why not create some new ones this year that are not only special and fun but also meaningful? These new traditions that help us remember why this time of year is truly so special just might become our new favorites.
According to a recent poll, more than 94 percent of Americans will celebrate Christmas this year — both Christians and non-Christians. For some, Christmas is merely a festive celebration, a time to eat, drink and be merry. But for those who want to connect with the deeper meaning of Christmas, it is important to look beyond the lights, ornaments and lawn decorations.
When developing new traditions, a great place to start is the Bible. American Bible Society's 2015 State of the Bible research indicated that 88 percent of U.S. households own at least one Bible. So, if you want to bring your family back to the real meaning of Christmas, it makes sense to begin with the historical account at the center of it all.
If you are part of the 88 percent of Americans who own a Bible, let's take it off the shelf and spend some time reading the story of Christ's birth.
Before you head off to bed on Christmas Eve, gather around the Christmas tree and read it as a family. Or, spend the 12 days of Christmas reading a portion of the story each day. It can be found in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter two.
Perhaps you'll want to look to the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who predicted the coming Messiah in a book full of verses that can enrich the Christmas celebration. Wherever you start, you will find that Jesus will become the center of more than just your manger scene.
The story of God's relentless pursuit of mankind and his willingness to send his Son to earth in the form of a newborn baby is one that is meaningful yearlong. But, during this season, as you gather with loved ones and consider your blessings, pause to think about the greatest blessing of all, the gift of Jesus given for all mankind.
Now that is the gift worth celebrating!